As a teenager in the late 1960s I had typical struggles about haircuts with my WWII veteran father. Leaving his overbearing discipline, I fled to the US Army, which enforced even stricter controls on my hair for the next 30 months. I don’t doubt that my Dad got a smile about that.
I left the army soon after my 20th birthday, and eschewed the barber’s chair for the next 4 or 5 years. When I finished college and went to Taiwan, I had my hair cut about every 6 or 8 weeks. I wasn’t too shaggy, but certainly wasn’t “professional” in appearance. When I went back to graduate school in the US I did a similar “no barbers” thing. Pictures of me during the first year of grad school show wonderful hair, so wonderful that I didn’t notice my ever-receding hairline.
Eventually I settled down and began a routine of haircuts to keep me from looking too scruffy. After all, I was married, a father, and a missionary! Besides that, I was in Taiwan, where guys, at that time, generally wore their hair shorter. Knowing that I couldn’t exactly fit in, I at least didn’t want to be grossly different.
When I commuted to work from Kaohsiung to Tainan from 2000 to 2007 I would get haircuts at a little place near work during my lunch hour. After I moved to Tainan in 2008, lunch time became nap time. Haircuts moved to the NT$100 (US$3) places at hypermarkets when I went shopping on Saturday mornings.
In preparation to speak at the 2018 graduation ceremony of Tainan Theological College I got a haircut early in June. I next visited the barber, in America, on the last day of September. I was still going about being a professional, so didn’t want to look too disheveled. Until November 19th of 2019, though, I was the only one who cut anything on my head. I let things grow long, wanting to feel like it was 1978 again or something. Of course, I used a pair of barber scissors to trim around my ears, and a razor on the back of my neck, but it was too far out of control. So I got a referral and went to the barber. Taking a seat I said to the woman who was about to do some mojo with what I’d brought, “Bless me, for I have sinned. The last time I sat in a chair like this was 14 months ago, and I am sore in need.” She was as kind and gentle as one would want a confessor to be. Now I look spiffy, and I retain a very white pony tail.
David Alexander now resides in Holland, MI after 39 years in Taiwan.