Anne and I had one major requirement when it came to dating in the 90s. The guy absolutely, positively, must, must, must have long hair.
It didn’t have to be Sebastian-Bach-from-Skid-Row-long to their waist or anything (although that was the ideal), but it definitely had to be at least Whitfield-Crane-from-Ugly-Kid-Joe-shoulder-length. We would often come home from high school, pop on MTV, and sit around and have conversations that went something like this:
“I just don’t think I could ever be attracted to a guy who didn’t have long hair.”
“I know. When I see a hot guy with short hair, it just makes me sad. I mean, how many years would it take to grow that out? Would I be willing to wait that long?”
The problem was that we lived in South Florida, which wasn’t exactly Los Angeles or Seattle, where in the 90s you couldn’t swing a life-sized cardboard cutout of Chris Cornell without knocking over five guys with long hair. In South Florida, post 80s, the long-haired man became a more elusive creature. When Anne and I would see one in the mall, we would literally drop whatever clothes we were holding at Wet Seal and quietly chase after him like some kind of secret Beatlemania and then stalk him as he walked around the record store. We would often be riding in the car with my mom, who greatly, greatly indulged us, and when we saw a long-haired guy walking down the street, we would force her to turn the car around so we could get another look at him and yell, “Woooooooo!” out the car window. Also, about half the time it would turn out to be a woman.
“Being a woman” was about the only thing that would disqualify a long-haired person from being dating material for us back then. We were willing to overlook just about anything in a guy if they had long hair.
Are you a jerk? Yes? Do you have long hair? Then you’re not a jerk so much as you’re just “misunderstood”.
Are you unemployed and live in a van? Yes? Do you have long hair? Then you’re not unemployed and living in a van so much as you are an “uncompromising freelancer nomad”.
I think it’s probably the same for men who chase after women who have those 48DDD Jessica Rabbit boobs, where you overlook your suspicions about her framing you for murder because tittaaaaaaays.
Anne and I would sometimes find ourselves in a dry spell, long-haired guy-wise, and on one particular night, we reached pretty far down the well to try to remedy it. We went to jail.
My mom worked in a doctor’s office and had befriended the little old lady, Margie, who cleaned the office at night. Margie was one of those little old ladies who had worked shit jobs scrubbing floors her entire life, and wasn’t even a little bitter about it. She was a solid lady and was just delightful to be around. She was so adorable, she used to run away from the lizards outside the office door while yelling, “I don’t like those bugs with tails!” in her thick, Pittsburgh accent. Honestly, you couldn’t even write her as a fictional character, because nobody would believe it. She was like a sugar-sweet version of Johnny Dangerously’s mom, Ma Kelly.
Unfortunately for Margie, she had a parasite named “Brett”. Brett was her grown-ass, unemployed 30-something shirtless son who sponged off of her and sat around her apartment all day drinking and smoking weed with his fellow sponger-friends, routinely got arrested for drunk and disorderlies, and was an all-around low-life. Margie worked full-time scrubbing floors, but had to be home by 5pm every night because that was when Brett expected her home to make dinner for him. And do his laundry. And give him pocket money for the bar.
Margie had a more forgiving view of Brett’s situation, which she often summed up as, “Brett can’t get no steady work”.
This somehow implied that Brett was looking for work, which he definitely was not. We heard this refrain so often from her that we officially changed his name from “Brett” to “Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work”. We lost touch with them over the years, but if I had to guess, I would say that Margie probably keeled over and died from exhaustion fifteen years ago while making Brett his favorite pasketti and he’s still storing her dead body in a freezer somewhere so he can collect her Social Security checks.
Late one Saturday night, Margie called my mom in a panic. It seemed Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work had gotten arrested again, this time for starting a bar fight probably over whether it was produced “Viet-NOM” or “Viet-NAM”, and Margie’s vision wasn’t good enough to allow her to drive in the dark to go bail him out.
Anne was spending the night at our house, and when my mom said she would go pick Margie up and take her to jail to bail out Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work, we didn’t think that much of it. That was, right before my mom was getting ready to walk out the door, and it dawned on me, “OH MY GOD. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY LONG-HAIRED GUYS THERE PROBABLY ARE IN THAT JAIL?”
Anne and I hopped up and threw on our sluttiest clothes and ran to get in the car with my mom, because teenage Anne and Maggie are idiots. How our teenage years didn’t end with us being found in shallow graves or stuffed inside the septic tank of a tour bus is completely beyond me.
We figured that even if the long-haired guys were behind bars, they probably had friends or bandmates who would show up to bail them out, and being that this was county lock-up, some of those guys may have even been in there for a few months, so they would be hot to trot for a couple of barely legal types like ourselves, assuming their legs weren’t still shackled together. Not that leg shackles would have disqualified a long-haired guy from our dating pool, of course. We would have just said he was the kind of guy who “liked to take things slow”.
We primped and lipsticked in the car vanity mirror in the parking lot at the jail like we were getting ready to walk into a Warrant video. We strutted through the parking lot, readjusted our bras for maximum push-uppedness, and flung open the door.
Much to our dismay, rather than the virtual Headbangers Ball we were expecting to find in the waiting area, anyone who was there looked exactly like Margie. It was an exclusive club of old cleaning women who were there to bail out their good-for-nothing adult sons. I was surprised they didn’t all know each other and settle into a game of Mahjong while they were waiting. Instead, they scrutinized the cleanliness of the floor and offered up homemade business cards for their cleaning services to the cop at the front desk. They probably should have used the opportunity to unionize.
When Brett Can’t Get No Steady Work made bail, we sad-faced trudged out of there and back through the parking lot, in full-on sullen teenager mode. As we got into the car, defeated, Anne looked up at the tiny windows that dotted the side of the building and saw a long-haired silhouette wave to us from inside the jail and said, “OH MY GOD DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?!!!”.
I looked up and he was gone. Like a shooting star, I had missed it.