The Agitator’s Mullet
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s business on top, party in the back.
A time comes in every person’s life when he realizes he is on the verge of greatness. He has two options at this point: 1)Seize the opportunity and attempt the next difficult step towards fame and glory or 2) Give up. The first path, paved with the shattered dreams and crushed hopes of colossal failures, scares most people away. They instead take the second path, as it is much safer, paved with the comforting “what ifs” and “what might have beens” of mediocrity. The few who do take the first path often find themselves like so many others who strived for greatness before them, defeated; greatness doesn’t come easy. But for those select few who do reach out and achieve that greatness, the rewards are indescribable.
I recently found myself at just such a juncture in my life, a proverbial fork in the metaphorical road representing my hairstyle. Simply put, I realized that if I played my cards right, I could live out the dream that every young boy has growing up: I could be a mullet. My hair was getting long, I had no reason to cut it, and I would even have the opportunity to display this mullet in beautiful Sacramento, California, the land of my birth. The ingredients were there, the recipe legible. The only thing missing was the drive and the ambition to make it happen.
To say that I lack drive and ambition would be an outright lie. I am extremely goal-oriented; I know what I want to do, and I know how to get things done. From graduating 30-something-th in my high school class to getting decent SAT scores to getting accepted at a second-tier public university, to having a moderately unpopular website, I have plenty of experience in living out my grandest dreams. But even I had to admit that having a mullet was a step above all my previous goals and ambitions – maybe even two or three steps, and I’m not talking about an escalator with those moving steps, either. This was prime-time stuff. And it was going to take everything I had, my infamous drive, my world-renowned ambition, my notorious focus, and my legendary energy, to make this particular dream a reality.
Normal, unassuming, maybe a little goofy-looking? Yes. Mullet? Not even.
As you can see, I had my work cut out for me. I was just as easily headed down the road to long-haired hippy town as I was to mullet city. But by staying focused, by keeping my eyes on the prize, and, most importantly, by eating a lot of Van de Kamp’s donuts (99 cents for a box of 8), I found myself in a Great Clips haircutting-type place in Citrus Heights on July 30th, 2003.
From there I thought it would be the home stretch. All the meticulous preparation, the waiting, the nervousness, and the tension seemed to be behind me. It was go time. After all, what better place to get a mullet cut than a cheap place in Citrus Heights? But the Mullet Gods had other ideas on this day, and they threw me and the rest of the Community Mullet Project (represented on the day in question by Freaky Metal Kid and Heathen) a big curveball: the lady at Great Clips had never cut a mullet before.
Even as she began that fateful haircut, it was clear things were not going as planned. Not only had she never cut a mullet before, she seemed downright perplexed by the goals of the project, and this was obviously affecting her performance. “So what bet did you lose?” she asked me.
“Oh, I didn’t lose a bet,” I explained. “I’m doing this for myself. It’s always been kind of a dream of mine.”
Although still visibly confused, the lady from that point began to understand a little better, and it showed as she stepped up her game and delivered a fine mullet for her first time. Success! At last!
Dreams really do come true.
Finally, both I and the Community Mullet Project could breathe some huge sighs of relief. Two and a half long years of mullet appreciation, encouragement, paper mullets, and mullet wigs had yielded the ultimate crop: a real mullet. This was real human hair, growing out of a real human head, with appropriate amounts of business and partying in all the right places. It was terrible, and it was ridiculous, and it was hilarious. And it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I’ll admit that I was more than a little nervous going into it, but once I got in that chair, and she cut off the sides first, and I could see what was going on, I thought to myself, ‘Hell yeah! I’m gonna have a mullet!’
Upon completion of the mullet, I sat in judgment of Community Mullet Project representatives FMK and Heathen. By the way they alternated between abject terror and uncontrollable laughter, I knew that it was good.
From there, it was time for the Community Mullet Project to begin its real work, bringing my mullet out into the community and showing it off in all its wondrous glory and splendor. Fearlessly we took my mullet from the mullet-friendly confines of Citrus Heights to the potentially hostile environment of Downtown and Old Sacramento. Once there, the mullet went to work, eliciting looks of confusion, looks of horror, and most importantly, laughter. Even the pseudo-punks took notice of the mullet, realizing, perhaps, that as cliched as mullets have become, they are still not as clichéd as leather and spikes and Sex Pistols patches, and not half as stupid-looking.
The Mullet for Governor? It’s got a nice ring to it . . .
When I first began planning to become a mullet, I wasn’t sure how long I would remain in that improved state. I knew I would want to be that way for at least a day, but I assumed that by the end of that first day I would be ready to be off with it. To be honest, though, it didn’t take long before I was used to the mullet. Within a few hours, I had grown accustomed to seeing my reflection in mirrors and windows and laughing at the ridiculousness staring back at me. I’m sure there’s some deep-seeded psychological explanation for that, self-loathing or low self-esteem or the domination of my id by my superego or something like that, but that doesn’t matter. All I knew was that it was rather comforting, knowing I could laugh at myself so readily – and for good reason; I had a freaking mullet.
Not only did the mullet improve my overall appearance, I also noticed significant improvement in my bowling skills.
I ended up keeping the mullet for the entire three days of Maximum Mayhem 2003. It seemed appropriate, as FMK had his own ridiculous hair for the occasion. Besides, I wasn’t thrilled about having to pay for two haircuts in such a short period of time, and I wanted to get the most utility out of this mullet that I could. (Although, as I remarked to FMK and Heathen as we drove away from Great Clips, I had easily gotten $12 worth of utility during and immediately after the haircut, and in this case there was no Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility.) And I did get plenty of use out of the haircut, experiencing for three blissful days what being a mullet is really like: what it\’s like being a mullet and taking a shower; what it’s like being a mullet and rafting down the American River; what it’s like being a mullet and eating nachos; what it’s like being a mullet and driving my dad to the airport; what it’s like being a mullet and eating two pounds of ground beef; what it’s like being a mullet and getting my teeth cleaned.
Everything was a little more exciting while I had a mullet. I would attribute that to the fact that, although the top of a mullet is always business-like, the back is constantly ready to party. And there’s a perpetual tension between the two: is it time to get down to business, or is it just time to get down? This is the essence of the mullet, the fundamental question I was trying to answer. How does one deal with having this sort of tension sitting on top of ones head? It would be not unlike wearing a nice blazer and tie, with cut-off jean shorts and flip-flops. There’s a definite preparedness for business but at the same time, a clear readiness to just kick back and have fun. And what was the verdict? In the never-ending struggle of business vs. party, who came out on top more often than not? And how does this struggle explain the true greatness achieved by all those with this hairstyle? The only answer I can possibly offer to any of these questions lies in the following picture.