132. The first time I shaved my head was an accident. It was the day before Senior year yearbook photos and I neglected to get a haircut so I woke my brother up at 5:30 AM to give me a haircut. He ended up cutting off all my hair except a patch in the back. I took my picture and had to shave my head to even it out. Unfortunately, bald heads were forbidden in my school and I had detention until it grew back to a reasonable length.
“Junior, wake up!”
“I need you to cut my hair”
“I just need a quick haircut for school.”
I completely forgot that our senior yearbook photos were today. I don’t know what made me remember at 5:30 AM but I did and I was about three weeks overdue for a haircut. Normally, i didn’t care much about my appearance in high school but for some reason, the thought of being immortalized with a nappy head terrified me. So, out of desperation, I woke up my brother at 5:30 AM to give me a haircut. Despite the fact that he barely opened his eyes, I was confident this wouldn’t be a problem. Just keep the clippers at one setting and do a once over. Unfortunately, it did not work out very well. He had the clippers set as low as you possibly could and the second he took his first swipe, it was game over.
For most people, having your hair cut bald wouldn’t be an issue. I’d been close to bald before. In 5th grade*, the barber, who I hated, shaved my hair as low as humanely possible without actually being bald for reasons unknown. When I got to school the next day, I refused to take off my Superman winter hat. The teacher kept yelling at me to take it off and I told her it wasn’t going to happen. She took me outside the classroom and I took off hat. She gasped and then laughed. She let me keep the hat on. This only increased the curiosity of my classmates (who were still in the midst of The Kill Sean Club) so, at recess, they made a full assault on trying to get the hat off my head. The laughter went on for about 30 minutes* reaching its peak when one of my classmates gave me a Blow Pop and called me Kojak.
At St. Mary’s High School, our dress code prohibited us from shaving our heads (that never made sense) so I was very freaked out. My head wasn’t completely bald but close enough. I managed to stay out of sight from Brother Joseph (the Principal) and Mr. Krams (Head of Discipline). I took my senior photo with my newly-shaved head. I also wore a hoop earring which we were also not allowed to wear. I figured “Why the hell not?” at this point. No one really said anything about it all day which lead me to believe my head wasn’t as short as I thought. I started to relax until Physics class. Tom, who sat directly behind me, was like a high school version of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. He was this tall, nerdy kid and dressed like he was going to a meeting of the Young Republicans after school every day. It was rare that Tom got to make fun of someone at school. That may have explained the tone in which he told me this and how loud he said it:
“Sean, you have a HUGE patch of hair on the back of your head.”
I felt the back of my head and he was right. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this. My brother pretty much missed the entire back of my head. Instead of being self-conscious about the hair I didn’t have on my head, I was now freaked out by the hair that was left. The rest of the day, I made a concerted effort to sit in the back of the class so no one would sit behind me. When I got home, I tried to fix my hair with the clippers my brother used in the morning but it wasn’t working. His clippers were shit. I had no choice but to shave it all off to level it out. To be honest, I liked how it looked. If it wasn’t for the whole “detention” angle, I might have kept this look.
The next day, the game plan was stay hidden. How hidden one of the five black guys in the entire building could be remained to be seen. I was doing fine until lunch time. The plan was to spend my lunch hour in the library since Brother Joseph and/or Mr. Krams would likely be in the cafeteria. I had to go to my locker to get some homework I didn’t finish. It was on the same floor as the cafeteria. I ran into one of my friends by my locker and told her what I was trying to do. As I was planning to make my way upstairs, Mr. “I” saw me.
Mr. I (I can’t remember his last name. I just remember it was Polish and unpronounceable henceforth “Mr. I”) was one of those teachers who were young enough to think he was cool but old enough to not be cool. If I had set up a pool for “Teacher Most Likely To Get Fired For Sexual Harassment”, I don’t even know who else to bet on. I hated Mr. I, mostly because he perpetuated my being called Raj from What’s Happening (Fact #3) by humming the theme song in English class during my first week of school in Freshman year. I’d had gotten over my hate for him for that and then he reminded me he was an asshole again. He yelled to me down the hall:
“Hey Sean! Nice bald head!”
As he said “bald”, Brother Joseph walked past him in the cafeteria and quickly shot his eyes in my direction. In retrospect, I should have just stood there and accepted that I was caught. Unfortunately, my reaction was “Oh shit!” and I ran. I hightailed it upstairs as fast as I could. Because it was lunch and everyone was in either the cafeteria, in a classroom or in the library, I could hear Brother Joseph giving chase. I got to the top floor and was going to make a move for the bathroom when the bell rang and all the classes let out. The hallway was now full and I couldn’t run anymore. Mrs. Hill, my English teacher, stopped me to ask me a question about my homework. All I felt was a tight grab around my arm and all i heard was, “Come with me, Mr. Campbell.”
Brother Joseph dragged me into an empty Chemistry classroom. the way the classroom was set up, the teacher’s desk was on a higher level than the student’s desks so when Brother Joseph sat down, it felt like he was the judge and I was on trial.
“Why did you run, Mr. Campbell?”
“Run from what?”
Sometimes I think the ability to make up a story on my feet is the result of being spanked as a child. If I couldn’t come up with a story fast enough when something broke or why I got a bad grade on my report card, I was going to play “Dodge the Belt” with my father. I can weave a tale with the best of them. So when Brother Joseph asked me why I ran, the first thing I could think of was pleading ignorance. In the entire chase, he never called my name. He never indicated that he wanted to talk to me. As far as I knew, he was also running upstairs to try and get to the bathroom before the bell rang. He insisted I knew that he was chasing me but I stuck to my guns. After five minutes, Brother Joseph just laughed and gave up.
“Okay, Mr. Campbell”
“So I can go?”
“So what happened to your hair?”
I told him the entire story about my brother and he laughed again. He thought it was funny but not so funny that I was not going to get detention. He sent me to Mr. Krams’ office and he also laughed when i told him about my brother. I was given detention until Mr. Krams felt my hair had grown enough. That ended up being eight days (he was nice about it all things considered).
I wish I could post a picture of my yearbook photo but it’s lost somewhere in my house but I’m very proud of my defiant bald/hoop earring senior photo.