Friday, August 14, 2009

Republican Hair Man

I met my wife, Elen, in 2003. She liked my hair, and still does. Then in my 30s, I had a full head of hair that had a good wave to it and was just starting to show a little silver. I often said I had Newscaster Hair, as if someone from the local TV news had injection-molded a template and I ordered one off the shelf. Now into my 40s, there is a lot more of the silver, but still lots of hair which makes me happy and angers my friend Shawn, who is not so fortunate and who feels the universe has been unkind to him.

But I digress.

So I have what I called Newscaster Hair, but what Elen's good friend Jesse and she called Republican Hair. As Elen and I continued to date, I was referred to as Republican Hair Man. We all found this rather funny, cuz ya see - I'm not a Republican. Get it? It's the whole facetious/irony thing! We slay us.

But I digress.

This all came back to mind recently as I was completing yet another Facebook quiz of some kind. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you obviously have interesting things to do with your life. Good for you!) The quiz asked about a pet peeve or something, and it just came to me that I get a little irked that people that don't know me assume things about my values based on how I look, and those things are never assumed the way I would like them to be. I look like Republican Hair Man. I'm a tall, well-spoken, sober, white guy. Ergo: I think it's funny that women shop too much and married people are in shackles and we're really doing gay people a favor by keeping them out of state-recognized marriages because marriage is just heck anyway! Get it? Cuz ya see, a tall straight white guy with good hair must think that's funny!

Or not.

When I was young, I wore my hair longer and I had in-your-face political buttons on my jacket and backpack. I had "Dump Reagan" bumper stickers on my beat-up car. (Side note: Many law enforcement officers misread "Dump Reagan" for "Ticket this uppity little hippie in the junker"). It was only later in life that I gave up on looking angry, and accepted the Irish salt-and-pepper mop that defines me to some as a Friendly. As someone you can tell off-color jokes to and not get in trouble. C'mon, he's one of us. Can't you just see it?

So this begs a question. It makes me think about the assumptions that come into my head when I see how people look. Which ones do I act on and which ones do I not notice? I am aware of my own Republican Hair Man bias - where I sometimes get cautious about stating my values in front of people who look like I apparently do. It's silly, I know, but I do catch myself wondering if people that look like me are going to start railing against a socialist take over of the health care system or some equally absurd idea. I may even be more careful about bringing up my support for a government-sponsored health care option. Or not.

The flip-side of this is also a trap for me. I see people in dreadlocks and hemp clothing, I make an assumption about their values. I see people that don't have much money and are loudly shouting on the bus about the evils of government, and I'm taken aback that their values don't match what I expect them to be.

I'm an unabashed leftist trapped in a right-of-center body. I've come to accept my transpolitical identity. Sometimes it's even fun to shock the heck out of someone who, with a smirk of knowing, jokes with me about how Government Interference is Ruining Our Lives. I then, sometimes, calmly mention that I think it is wrong that government policy perpetuates oligarchy - to transmit wealth (via the tax code) to some based solely on their birth and start others with zero for the same reason. That has taken the wink out of an eye or two in my time.

I probably shouldn't think that is fun. Oh well, one more thing I can't assume about me from looking in a mirror.

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