This week’s ThingFight has been 4 million years in the making, reaching back into our ancient past to when Neanderthals meandered tall across the earthen crust upon their hind legs, styling their ‘do in such a deceivingly lackadaisical fashion so as to better balance their spines while keeping to that scruffy, bad-boy zeitgeist of the time. Accelerating through eons of mankind’s brilliance and ingenuity; the mohawk, the faux hawk, the mullet, the beard combover, we arrive at the culmination of hairstyle evolution, the dominating victors of mane natural selection: rattail and bowl cut.
If you were ever a boy between the ages of 3 and 13, you had a bowl cut or a rattail. You may be thinking, ‘When I was between the ages of 3 and 13, I was a girl,’ and you may be wondering how you could get away with not reading the rest of this column and live without crushing curiosity as to how this fight will play out. Well, we urge you girls to keep reading because we’re sure that the only thing more aggravating than owning an embarrassing haircut was living with, and eventually developing a crush on, guys with embarrassing haircuts.
In one corner, we have the rattail: a long, stylish strand of hair that protrudes from the back of the head and looks best unwashed. The style is named, of course, after the brilliant rodent scientists who sported the hairstyle in the ‘golden age’ of rodent science. Not to be confused with the pigtail, a curly, hairless mass of skin popular among preteen girls living near nuclear power plants. The rattail can be worn in a number of ways: a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away, a braided rattail was worn by Obi-Wan Kenobi, while a beaded rattail was worn by his nemesis, Darth Beads. Likely, the tamer of this lion of a hairstyle was your schoolyard bully, keeper of your lunch coins and dignity. More likely, he is now your boss, keeper of your present and future. There’s a chance that you might speculate at some point that perhaps he’s God, keeper of your soul. What makes such a hideous hairstyle so appealing? The rattail’s got spunk and attitude; a punk rocker edge to coincide with the little bits dying inside, a social sacrifice made in the pursuit of power, a surge of adrenaline each time its owner catches a glimpse at the reflection. A heart flutter every time the owner hears its name. It’s personal, and it’s deep. It’s more than a hairstyle: it’s love.
In the other corner, we have the bowl cut, also known as the ‘moptop’ or ‘gentleman’s mohawk.’ The term ‘bowl cut’ comes from Native Americans, who believed that when one was given a stupid haircut, the hair should be placed in a bowl and sacrificed to the weird-named gods of Ohio. Coincidentally, the bowl cut often resembles a bowl made of hair being worn on one’s head.
In the 1960s, an experiment was performed to prove once and for all which hairstyle reigned supreme. The two variables in the experiment are commonly known as The Monkees and The Beatles. The American public was told the two groups were ‘British,’ but modern society now acknowledges the fact that Britain does not exist, nor did it ever. The Beatles and The Monkees were actually created in a laboratory as clones of each other, but with one small difference: The Beatles had bowl cuts and The Monkees had rattails. Of course, all evidence of this has since been erased; a Google Images search for ‘monkee rattail’ will only lead to some poorly Photoshopped nude photos of Davy Jones. Decades later, the results of the experiment are undeniably conclusive: The Monkees remain the most popular and celebrated songwriters of their time, if not all time, while The Beatles have accepted their fates as has-beens and crawled out of the public eye to die off, one by one.
And yet history cannot choose a winner for this week. When it comes down to the facts, the word ‘winner’ can only be used in determining which haircut is most easily fixed. While a rattail can easily be procured, just a simple snip away, we must imagine the resulting hairstyle that has been housing the tail: an uneven crew cut. We must, then, declare the bowl cut a winner; not for actuality, but for potential. With a bowl cut, you still have long enough hair to shape and mold to your heart’s content. Even if you manage to end up with a more embarrassing and shorter haircut, remember that there is a simple fact that keeps the world together: hair grows. Be warned, however, for without a haircut, hair grows . . . into a mullet.