“Okay, sweetheart, what do you want?”
And there I sat, not quite sure what to say. It’s not like it was the first haircut I had ever received. I even looked through the large stack of Oprah and Cosmo magazines for an inspired haircut.. Alas, all those haircuts look good on models and since I had missed out on my chance to become a Quidditch showman, I closed the magazines, speechless.
It was the first haircut I had received at the hands of a professional since last July. Since I began attending college in Fall of 2010, I had slipped into a near vicious cycle:
1. Shave head into obnoxious Mohawk for World Cup
2. Cut my hair at the end of spring.
So for those keeping track of the points at home, that’s a mere two haircuts in a year—and one of those included shaving my head to more resemble a rat or squealing tire track on the road. Those haircuts came at the hands of loving teammates, those who caught more hearts than snitches. My last four haircuts had come from friends and teammates who I, invariably, trusted with my entire life.
But what’s in a haircut?
At World Cup IV, I got the Mohawk, desperate to become part of the family that so seamlessly invited me into their open arms that September. More than half of us got Mohawks that year. Although I got a solid forty-five seconds of playing time that year, that Mohawk meant everything to me. Before our opening game against NYU, all of our guys stood in front of the hoops and tore off our winter hats in a triumphantly large reveal. Some laughed; some groaned and some decided it was the most annoying thing to ever happen in Quidditch.
I didn’t care. Mohawks meant family, no matter how much we all looked like escapees from prison. All we were missing was the matching set of snitch tattoos, engraved with rusty pickaxes we built from inside of our cells together. We were heckled, we were jeered by cries about “Evil Emerson,” but we ignored them.
With our Mohawks, we seemed infinite. Unbeatable. Undeniable.
So when I sat in that chair, my surprisingly shaggy hair growing longer by the second, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted. Presumably, I could select any haircut I wanted and this woman could give it to me. It was her job to do so, anyway, she was a professional.
When the time came to get Mohawks this year, hardly anyone moved. No one jumped up with enthusiastic determination to join a long withstanding tradition. And it was sad.
This year there was no big reveal. There was no chorus of boos to rain down upon at World Cup V. This year, we had tamed ourselves.
Admittedly, we were all still a family. Perhaps one that not only rivaled my first year, but a close-knit squad that surpassed any team I had ever played for in my life. But the fact remained: only four of us got Mohawks.
This year, I kneeled down on the floor of a foreign bathroom in New Jersey, hoping so desperately that my newly minted Mohawk with spark a furious, infectious riot that would ultimately lead to the majority of our squad sporting ridiculously perfect haircuts. Many of our guys remarked that their significant others wouldn’t be pleased to find a giant, gnarly rat-like creature on top of their boyfriend’s head upon return from New York.
So when I asked Gabe to shave “S W A G” into my hair as a last-ditch effort to inspire, I honestly wasn’t sure what kind of results I was striving for. Most of you know the rest of the story. It most resembled the word “W A G” and crudely looked like a child’s finger-paint project when filled in with yellow and purple face paint. Somehow I had transcended the line of absurdity and looked even more ridiculous than I ever had in my entire life.
So what’s in a haircut?
Would it be too cliché, too contrived to say everything?. A haircut can sometimes inspire and unite as it did for me at my first World Cup. A haircut can change everything. It can transform a team of friends into family. Mohawks will protect you from insults and will weather you from the storm. Whether or you win or lose, you’ve done it all together in the most ridiculous fashion imaginable. Even if you err on the side of it being obnoxious or atrocious, where is the harm?
What a Mohawk means is a terrible haircut and a few months of odd looks and second glances. But every single second of every single terrible haircut that I’ve ever gotten for Emerson College Quidditch has been worth it.
As I sat in the salon yesterday afternoon, I struggled to create any sort of sentence in reply to her simple question. Then, finally, it hit me: it didn’t matter. I was just going to shave it into a Mohawk at first chance anyways.
And that’s what I told her and the hands of a professional went to work.
I’m giving serious thought to making the Mohawk mandatory this year. Make no mistake, we don’t get them to intimidate. Hell, we don’t even think we’re cool. I see them for the inseparable bonds it helps create between teammates during the best weekend of your life. When you look back on the World Cup, will you remember it for looking like an idiot? Will you even remember it for the results or scores or snitch catches? Personally, years later, I promise I will remember these teams for the families I received and the friends I’ll never forget.
Together (with Mohawks) we can do anything.