Coshocton

Coshocton: (n) a city in E central Ohio.

My body was twenty years old, my heart, fifteen, my soul, sixty-five, and my mind, ten.

Yeah. That’s about right.

I had started a music group and was convinced it was just a matter of time until we would have a record contract, dazzling the airwaves, and in the process also impress my family members who thought I should get a job at a local department store called Buckeye Mart.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Gigs were hard to come by. We were performing contemporary music with a rock edge, but it had a Christian message. In that season, those elements were not allowed to combine.

So I was absolutely thrilled when there was a Bible college in Coshocton, Ohio, which contacted us and said they wanted us to come and play for their morning chapel.

I had long hair, and our group dressed like hippies who had put together their wardrobe with an Ohio mindset. We headed off to the college—which was rather conservative, and upon arriving, immediately ran into trouble.

The dean of students did not think it was appropriate to place us on a “platform of importance” when they had a dress code at the school which included that all men must wear their hair off their ears.

I kept my cool. This was the “old soul” part of me. I explained to them, in a comical way, that I was going to use part of the twenty-five-dollar honorarium check to get a haircut, because up to this point, I had not been able to afford one.

They looked at me with sympathetic eyes and actually bought the story—so much so that I was embarrassed that I lied to them.

Nevertheless, the Dean of Students included that part of our interchange in the introduction before we came up to sing our two songs.

I should say “prepared to sing our two songs,” because when we began, the bass guitar and drums were so foreign that the teaching staff came forward, objected and stopped the program.

The students were alarmed and perhaps offended that we were not able to continue but had drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to remain silent.

The ten-year-old mind and the fifteen-year-old emotions got together—and I threw a shit fit right there in front of everyone. I quoted Bible, Bill of Rights, Constitution and even something I had read in their school charter about “allowing the Spirit to move.”

It didn’t make any difference.

But apparently, I was eloquent enough that they decided to give us the twenty-five dollar check anyway, so it wouldn’t look like they were welchers and had cheated us.

So having only sung a half of a chorus on one song, we packed up our equipment and headed down the road.

By the way—I never got the haircut.


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Clean-cut

Clean-cut: (adj) giving the appearance of neatness and respectability.

He was Mr. Wintermute.

I did not know his first name since I was a young boy and was not allowed to speak it, or for that matter, hear it. He was our village barber.
He cut hair.

I didn’t like to have my hair cut. I didn’t have any reason. Mr. Wintermute was a nice enough fellow. I suppose in today’s culture, we might accuse him of having “soft hands,” but such things were not considered when I was a young’un growing up.

He offered two possibilities in his shop. The first was called “regular,” and the second was called “butch.”

A butch haircut was one that was combed to the top and then clipped down to look like grass on a putting green.

A regular haircut was a little splash of hair left on the top and white walls on the sides.

Mr. Wintermute did not take special orders.

He had a little speech he delivered every time I went into his chair. “Yes, it’s good that you came. You’re looking a little shaggy, like the dog in the Disney movie. Let’s see what we can do to make you look clean-cut again.”

By clean-cut, Wintermute meant shaving everything in sight, leaving unattractive stubble around the ears, and a clump of what appeared to be crab grass on top. Of course, that clump needed to be clean-cut also, so he offered Brylcreem to smooth it down. And even though “a little dab’ll do you,” Mr. Wintermute was much more generous.

I would actually walk out of the barber shop feeling chilly–because suddenly my ears were on their own, to stay warm. My chubby face now just looked fat–and all the adults around me, who were advocates of clean-cut, “o-o-h-ed and a-h-h-ed” to maintain the belief that how one cut one’s hair actually had something to do with character.

Mr. Wintermute has long ago passed away. I think he would be very pleased that I wrote this essay about him, highlighting a time in American history when how we looked was the essence of who we were.

 

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Barber

Barber: (n) a person who cuts hairDictionary B

They called it a “regular.”

When I was eleven years old, my mother made me repeat the word “regular” back to her, so I would know what kind of haircut to ask for when I went to our barber, Mr. Smythe.

I hated to go.

Mr. Smythe was a nice man–small, soft-spoken and now, as I look back on it, probably gay. In our town, it was illegal to be gay, to think about being gay, or even to mention the word “homosexual.” So Mr. Smythe was more than likely hiding out behind his scissors and clippers.

And I now realize that he was probably just as terrified when I arrived at his barbershop as I was to climb up in his big chair and have him snip at my locks.

We struggled through fifteen minutes of conversation, which deteriorated with each of his questions, which I finalized with a “yes” or “no.”

I was always glad when we got to the end of the experience and he began to brush my hair to dispel all the dislodged members.

But then he would ask the most embarrassing question of all: “Would you like me to put some smell-good on you, for the ladies?”

I was only eleven years old, and the only ladies I knew were still forcing their way into my life to wipe my nose with Kleenex.

I don’t remember what I ever mumbled back, but sometimes he smeared me with aftershave, and on other occasions we would forego the ordeal.

I had my dollar and a quarter all ready for him, and as I left, he pretended we had made an amazing connection, and told me to “stop in any time.”

I didn’t. I only went when my mother decided I needed to display more ears.

I think about him from time to time.

  • What was his story?
  • Where did he end up?
  • Was he ever able to come out of the barber’s closet?

Perhaps he just a real sweet guy who liked women and was kind to little boys like me … who had not yet learned how to correctly answer questions.

 

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Aldrin, Buzz

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Aldrin, Buzz: (1930- ) U.S. Astronaut who walked in space for 5 hours and 37 minutes during the 1966 Gemini 12 mission. In 1969 he took part in the first moon landing, becoming the second person, after Neil Armstrong, to set foot on the moon.

Perhaps he acquired his nickname because he was selected to play a bee in the second-grade play, Spring is Sprung, personifying the emergence of Nature for another year.

Yes, maybe that’s why they call him “Buzz.”

Or maybe it’s because he has a penchant for snoring and the sound that emotes from his nostrils is best described as a “buzz.”

Then I had a thought that he got this name, Buzz, because of the haircut he sported, which at one time or another, has been referred to as a “buzz cut.”

Maybe he was just the kind of guy who liked to drive around town waving at people, making it known that he had a car and could afford gasoline–just “buzzing about.”

I was thinking that when he was a young boy doing pranks, he might have been one of those kids who rang people’s doorbell, and then disappeared quickly–a “buzzer.”

Another idea: maybe he played basketball and was known for making the winning goal just before the clock ran out, “beating the buzzer.”

I’m not sure how he got the name Buzz.

Maybe it’s because he buzzed around the moon and stopped off to take a brief stroll before heading back home.