Tom Purcell, 7/23/2013 [Archive]

My David Cassidy Hair

Exclusive Excerpt from: "An Apple Core, a Toilet: Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood" by Tom Purcell

(Editor Note: A prior version of this column was distributed by Cagle Cartoons in 2011. If you run this column, please mention that it is an excerpt from Tom Purcell's new book, "An Apple Core, a Toilet: Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood." Thanks!)

My "David Cassidy" Hair

By Tom Purcell

First-wave baby boomers will begin turning 67 this year — and they're STILL imposing their ways on younger people, such as tail-end boomers like me.

Though maybe I'm still upset about the David Cassidy haircut my sisters made me get in 1973.

Like every teen girl then, my sisters were smitten with Cassidy. They exploited my chief insecurity to get me to cut my hair like his.

"If you part your hair down the middle and feather it over the sides, you'll be able to hide your big floppy ears," they said.

And so it was that I would do the unthinkable: I would become the first kid in St. Germaine School to don the Cassidy look.

I pedaled my bike three miles to the unisex hair salon. I approached the salon's owner, a cranky middle-aged woman with a cigarette dangling from her lip, and set a pile of crumpled bills and coins on the counter.

"Make me look like David Cassidy," I said.

She clipped and she cut, she styled and she set. She applied goops and sprays of every kind.

When she finished, she turned the chair around so I could see in the mirror what she had done. I didn't look a whit like David Cassidy.

I looked like Danny Bonaduce.

I pedaled home as fast as I could and I hid in my room the rest of the day. I finally had to come out when my father called me down for supper.

I took my seat to his right. He sensed something was off immediately.

As he washed his burger down with man-sized gulps of Pabst Blue Ribbon, he kept looking over to me.

"What the hell happened to your hair?" he finally said.

"I got it cut."

"But it's parted down the middle."


"Who parts hair down the middle?"

"The unisex hair salon."

"The uni-what?"

"A place that cuts hair for both men and women."

"You went to a lady's hair salon!"

"A unisex salon."

"But your hair is parted down the middle!"

My David Cassidy haircut was as painful for my father as it was for me. Our suffering had a common source: first-wave baby boomers.

Since the first boomer was born in 1946, boomers have been setting the pace. They've foisted their politics, their music and their clothing on younger generations.

Now, as they begin pushing 70, they're foisting all kinds of problems on us.

As millions retire, they will stop contributing to Social Security and begin receiving payments. Our taxes will surely rise to keep their cash flowing.

That's because older boomers have the numbers to demand lots of government goodies from politicians eager to trade taxpayer dough for votes.

Will hair transplants and facelifts be paid for by government-directed healthcare programs?

Though it's not like older boomers are broke. Dow Jones reports that many have amassed a fine nest egg — which they do not intend to leave for their kids.

Some will sell their suburban homes and flock to resort areas in other countries — further driving down the value of homes here, while driving up the home values elsewhere.

To be sure, younger generations have spent their lives fighting off the influence and agitation of the older boomers, and we've failed at every turn.

It wasn't until my mid 20s that I finally got rid of my David Cassidy haircut. I told the hairdresser to try something modern and original.

She cut my hair short and slicked it straight back. When she spun my chair around to show me her work, I was horrified by what I saw.

I looked like Eddie Munster.

© 2013 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales at Send comments to Tom at

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