Driving through Georgetown in rush-hour traffic used to be boring: you would sit in the car, waiting for lights to change, with very little other than storefronts to distract you. Oh, occasionally you might see somebody interesting, or a bicyclist nearly meet his maker, but generally speaking, Georgetown didn't offer much in the way of rush-hour entertainment.
I am happy to report, however, that this has changed. Georgetown has now become, as my generation used to put it, a trip.
Visuals abound: you can see young men and women in the most amazing costumes. Leather, chains, baggy pants and shirts, earrings and enormous boots are de rigeur, but it is the hair that opens new vistas in human potential.
There is the young man with the Mohawk, head shaved bald on the sides with a three-to-four-inch yellow band of plumage going straight down the middle of his head, making him look like a cockatoo. There is also the young man who has fashioned his plumage so that yellow tufts stick straight up, like spikes. I'm told by reliable sources that this fashion is, indeed, called: "spiked."
These sources report that various gels and over-the-counter hair coloring concoctions are used to create those effects, which depending on how successful the amateur hairdressers are, can range from harsh yellow to flaming orange.
Black is another popular color, as are various combinations of black and yellow, and shades in between, showing up in zones around the same head. Segments of hair are then artfully arranged to stick up and out in ways that defy gravity as well as convention.
Georgetown is not the only place you can see young people experimenting in new art forms. If you are the parent of a teen-ager, you might be able to see this at home, either under the auspices of your very own teen-ager or one or more of his or her friends. Right now, short appears to be in.
Thus it was that a friend of my older son appeared on the deck one evening with a coiffure that faintly resembled the crew cut of ancient times -- an effect that was somewhat muddled, however, by the presence of three earrings in his pierced ear and a tattoo on his right arm. It turns out that he is a very bright and thoughtful young man, as well as the son of a high-ranking appointee in the Reagan administration.
My resident reliable source in these matters at one point explained that young people thus engaged were "making a statement." I never quite understood what the statement was, but I'm getting the impression that some of the "statements" are becoming mainstreamed.
Not very long ago, I returned home from the store and called out the news that there were bags of groceries in the car. My son the college student and his brother the 9-year-old answered that they were busy. The voices came from behind the closed door of my older son's bedroom.
I walked in. "What are you doing?"
They were in the bathroom. They were cutting my younger son's hair. They said I couldn't see until it was finished.
He was, to put it mildly, transformed. He went from Prince Valiant to short. Very short. After the initial shock, I decided I rather liked it, although I had trouble recognizing him.
At the soccer game the next day, people wanted to know where he was.
His coach, however, thought it was terrific, and recommended it to other players. It's an ideal cut for playing in 90-degree weather, not to mention for swimming competitively since it creates no drag in the water. He's been giving out the name of his hairdresser.
I have a friend who recently spent $18 on a similar cut for his son. His son got home, however, and decided to improve on the cut. My friend reports that there are now bald patches on his son's head. I told him I knew the name of a good hairdresser.
I can recall reacting rather negatively when my son began dabbling with new hair colors and styles, but that was a couple of years ago, and he was something of a trendsetter. Right now, he's looking suspiciously normal, which makes it easier to be reasonable about these matters.
The whole point, I've decided, is that parents have to learn to keep these things in perspective: young people are supposed to rebel and do bizarre things, and with a generation that's been labeled conservative, and has certainly been voting conservative, it's a relief to know that at least some of them are behaving the way they're supposed to: Outrageously.
The other point to remember is that as hair gets shorter, the blow-dried styles that cost a fortune may be replaced by the buzz you can do at home with an electric razor.