by Victor Wanchena
Hair styles are tough for motorcyclists. You might like a fancy or elaborate hairstyle, but if you want to maintain it while you’re riding, there’s no good solution. Something is always tugging, pulling, mashing, or blasting your hair.
When I was younger and trying to impress the ladies, I favored a doo that involved a lot of “product”. We didn’t call it “product”, though. It was gel or goop. This stuff was amazing: you could plasticize your hair in just a few minutes into any shape. If you weren’t careful, you’d cement a comb right to your head. Despite the strength of this water-based hair epoxy, it couldn’t resist the wind. Light breezes were no problem, but 60-mph was beyond its rated strength. At the time, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t think a helmet was necessary. I was far too cool for the anonymity of a helmet. So I’d comb up my hair as funky as possible and take off on my bike with disastrous results.
The goop couldn’t hold the elaborate shapes I’d chosen in the face of a 60-mph headwind and instead collapsed into a mess that resembled the matted fur of a hibernating bear. Once, the semi-rigid chunks of hair managed to capture a June bug; uninjured. The beetle, unhappy it had been detoured from its evening rounds, emerged at an embarrassing moment. I was trying to look mean while stopped at a light. The beetle crawled out its hairy jail and on to my forehead. I flailed my arms trying to remove whatever was creeping across my head, much to the amusement of the girls in the car next to me.
I tried the logical alternative; no goop. But the wind would whip through my hair, snarling it into two pointy wings. After forty minutes on the freeway, I resembled Mercury, messenger of the gods. Even a ball cap wouldn’t hide my faux superhero hair.
Then I got a little older and wised up a lot. I started wearing a helmet and picked a simpler, more dignified hair cut. But my hair style problems weren’t over. No matter what I did before putting my helmet on, when it came off I looked like a homeless guy on a three-day spray-paint bender. I tried all sorts of caps and rags that promised normal looking hair with a helmet. In the words of P.T. Barnum, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” And this was with a much simpler hair style, combed straight back; nothing crazy or weird. I even tried leaving my hair messy, figuring that I might come out the opposite, neatly combed, when the helmet came off. My experiment didn’t work.
I am slowly coming to the realization that the only solution is to trim it down to an ultra-short buzz cut. The advantages of a wash and wear hair style are nice but that only works for me and the other guys out there. Ladies, you’re on your own. The Sinead O’Connor or Grace Jones look was tough then and hasn’t gotten better with time. At least, being a guy, I can joke, “Yeah, I go to a hairstylist. His name is Helmut.”