The Knights of the Auto Order Proudly Present: The Auto Body Estimate: Vol. II, #68, November 2006

Until she retired last year my mom worked as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines. While I'd never been a passenger on one of her flights, I'm sure she surprised many travelers with her unusually kind and thoughtful demeanor. One day a totally bald young woman boarded her plane. This woman caught my mom's attention as she has lived through more than one battle with cancer herself. When there was a break in her work, my mom sat beside the woman and said in a quiet voice: "I just want you to know that I'm a survivor too." The woman returned a gentle smile and explained: "Actually I'm a Buddhist Monk."

Apparently a lot is read into what's on top of your head. I've had long hair since the Carter administration and I'm no longer exactly sure why. In the 70s you could tell yourself that having long hair placed you in a club (an admittedly large one) with creative heads like John Lennon, George Harrison, Frank Zappa and Duane Allman. Today they're all gone, and long hair puts you in a club with – I dunno – probably guys who play in bands like Medadeth, Lamb of God, and Dragonforce.

Long hair was once thought to be an expression of rebellion and/or a demonstration of a free spirit, but I now find this association troubling. If you were actually rebellious would you really grow your hair long after so many others did before you? If you were really a free spirit would you spend the extra time every morning with the preening? Would you really put up with all that itchy stuff blowing in your face every time you rolled the window down on your motor scooter? Again -- I dunno.

This summer I began to feel urge to cut my hair really short. On the surface my motivations felt practical: it would be cooler in the hot weather, easier to take care of, and harder for baby Erik to pull out in bunches. I also felt that a change might be interesting (heck...I never thought I'd have children either and so far that's worked out really well.) But I wonder if maybe there were deeper-seated issues behind this hair-cutting impulse. In fact there seemed to be two opposing possibilities: either I was beginning to realize that I no longer have to dedicate my life to living out my junior-high-rock-and-roll-hero-worship fantasies, or this strange grooming urge was simply the result of finally having lost my soul to the Pleasant Valley Sunday, nine-to-five man.

Further adding to the pro side of the haircut was the fact that my family has not hassled me about getting a haircut for well over a decade. Similar statutes of limitation ran out shortly before Becca and I were married five years ago and before Erik was born last year. Anyway, in the end, I was spared the difficult decision of whether or not to cut by a bizarre accident of which I'm too embarrassed to speak. I do feel compelled, however, to testify to others that horseplay, alcohol, and ceiling fans do not mix.

Anyway, it turns out there are some advantages to the new 'do. I've found that I really enjoy trips to the barber -- especially when they lather up the back of your neck and shave it with the straight razor: very nice. Then they put stinky stuff on afterwards -- which seems strangely nostalgic -- and it's fun to run your hand on the resulting highly-directional stubble. I also finally understand how the expression "with the wind blowing through your hair" can actually have positive tactile connotations.

Upon sporting inch-long hair I did receive some positive feedback from a few people who thought it made me look younger. I was even carded on the way into a local bar, although I may be flattering myself on this count as the doorman did have dark glasses and a white cane. Nevertheless, since then I have stopped shaving. While my hair has only a few hints of grey, my beard is now almost completely white, and this seems to affect my perceived age in the opposite direction.

While we usually buy Erik's diapers in bulk at a discount store I recently had to run into a drug store to buy a few to tide us over. Not knowing where they were located I asked a clerk where the diapers were and he directed me to aisle eight. Having no difficulty locating the aisle he specified I was a little confused to find myself surrounded by adult incontinence products. No shit. But I'm told that this confusion increases with age.

On Saturday, November 18th the Auto Body Experience will play at O'Gara's. We'll play a long set (including "Crap" from "A Tribute to Carhenge") starting around 9:00 PM, followed by the fabulous Kubla Kahn (you gotta love bands with good horns). While we’ve got a line on a new sax player, he unfortunately had some schedule conflicts this weekend, so our pal Max Wendt will make the trip from Madison. To further confuse the scorekeepers, our new keyboardist Greg Smith will play this gig, but Trey will reputedly show up and sing a little bit as the rest of us struggle to learn the high parts.

Finally, when Becca asked if I planned to keep the beard for the upcoming gig, I replied predictably: "Depends."

Love, Scott Yoho and the Auto Body Experience

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