submit submit submit - drawing by barbara klein
Back in the heady days of the technology boom, many of us found ourselves in a new business environment. Gone were the brown leather shoes and the button down shirts of our father’s business world, replaced by cross-trainers and freebie black t-shirts with the company logo emblazoned in fluorescent orange. Going to work was like going to a rave with quieter music and more computers. And the hair? The hair stood as tall and proud as it wanted, or flowed below the waist in soft, gentle curves. At the height of the IPO frenzy, even matted, unwashed dreadlocks were commonly seen on the heads of VPs and CTOs across the country.

But not any more, my friends! Like a cold wind blowing in from long ago, the fashion choices of generations past are creeping their way back into the business attire of our generation. Forced into normal office jobs, where the managers are twice their age and don’t pay overtime, these new members of the 9-to-5 grind are finding themselves faced with a critical decision: conform to the culture or get back in line at the unemployment office. Even the beloved blue shirts and cargo pants of the dotcom workers are being flung aside in deference to pants with straight legs, pleats, and only three pockets. 

As uncomfortable as these pants may be, these are easy changes to make. So, you have to go to Banana Republic instead of the Gap? Is that so bad? Your mother always told you that you looked good in a tie. But even a massive wardrobe upgrade requires only surface level changes to your appearance. Straightening your tie and buttoning your cuffs doesn’t require you to lose the nipple ring or have your tattoos lasered off. For many, however, fitting in at the office will require a good, clean, conservative haircut.

The horror! People with nice haircuts are jerks, and everyone knows it. Without the clear indicators that a shaggy, purple mane or a greased green pompadour provide, how are we to know who is cool and who is a republican? The answer lies in a new haircut invented specifically for people in this precarious situation: the business mohawk.

The business mohawk is a simple solution to the problem of having cool hair that also conforms to the office dress code. Your hair needs not be too long, nor too tall, nor too blue. All you need is a $7 haircut and a little pot of hair goo. The business mohawk can be yours.

The business mohawk begins with a short, conservative haircut. Tell your barber to give you a nice close trim around the sides and over the ears, but to leave it a bit long on the top. You’ll need an inch and a half to two inches of hair to pull it off. Your barber can also recommend a good product to keep your hair in place: make sure you get one formulated for your hair type. Nobody wants to share a cubicle with a greaser.

The first thing you’ve got to do when you get back from the barber is to get rid of whatever look the stylist has given you. Get rid of any parts, flatten out any little upwards swing he’s combed into your locks. Mash your hair down until it’s all lying flat against the contours of your head. If you look like you’ve just pulled yourself out of a pool, you’re on the right track.

Now, butter up your hands with your chosen hair goo. With your fingertips, work some goo into the sides and back of your hair, pushing the back bits down and the side bits forward. It may feel like you’re pushing your limits already by pushing those side hairs up onto your face, but the texture it adds is essential.

Once you’ve got the peripheral bits glued down with goo, you’ll want to prepare the top. Really lather your palms up with a heavy dose of product. Then, starting on the left-hand side, mash your palm across your scalp as hard as you can to the right and to the front. This will hurt. However, your hairs should fall into line, creating a nice diagonal line across your head. Repeat on the right hand side, pulling all the hair towards the center. 

Now, if you’ve had your hair cut properly, you’ll have a region in the center of your head where the hair from the left overlaps with the hair from the right. This is the heart of the business mohawk. Place a hand on either side of your head and slowly move them together, pulling and lifting the overlaping regions into a little ridge down the middle of your head. Depending on the overall length of your hair, you may want to twist the front end of the mohawk around in your fingers a few times to create a little hair-facade. There! The business mohawk is yours.

Look at yourself in the mirror. From the front, it looks like a crew cut. But from the side, you are totally punk rock. You can safely wear the business mohawk to work without fear of detection, as anyone who notices will just think that you’ve got a bit of a cowlick. But you’ll know the truth -- you may look like a stiff, but you’re a slam dancing, anti-corporate badass inside. For an extra special flare, wear your business mohawk with a Dali tie, or mismatched socks. Scandalous! Now you’re really flaunting your independence.

Don’t you feel like a badass? Look at everyone around you, with their shiny shoes and old man haircuts. They’ve given in to The System. They’ve become mindless automatons! Not you! No sir! You are a free thinker, and your haircut says so. You’ve got a dangerous edge that not only gives you a business advantage, but also a leg up on the next round of trendy nostalgia.

But be careful! This new freedom comes at a price: you’ll have to suppress your desire to swill beer and kick ass in the workplace. Limit your anti-establishment behavior to stealing time on the company’s photocopier and writing angry e-mails to your girlfriend where you tell her that you’re fed up with the squares you work with, and that you’re going to walk out any minute. Keeping your rebellious nature bottled up will make it hotter and more volatile, which will come in handy when you are eventually downsized out of a job, allowing you to finally scream cuss words at your boss as you are escorted out of the building. And don’t forget to throw a few punches! After all, you are a punk rocker!

Other hair-related pieces on this site 
include this and this and this.


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