“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” Chapter 17 “On Mullets”
By Bruce Williams
Perhaps the greatest haircut of the 20th Century was the mullet. Since I’ve mentioned this particular hairstyle in several previous columns, I thought it only fair to give it its own platform and due homage. Popularized in the late 70’s and embraced whole-heartedly in the buttrockin’ ‘80’s, the mullet was the hairstyle of choice whether you wore a letterman’s jacket or a Black Sabbath t-shirt. There was a brilliant website in the ‘90’s that took a discerning look at this phenomenon called “MulletsGalore.com” (now, sadly, defunct…I checked)—the site’s purveyor would go around and clandestinely capture pictures of guys (and in some unfortunate instances gals) and their peacocked plumage, and then rate their regalness and (more fantastically) their aggressiveness, as well as describing and naming their unique style genre. Sometimes his subjects would turn on him, as is the mulleted’s nature, and there would be consequences—which he’d also record (I’m certain I would’ve been friends with this chap).
When I spot a mullet now, I immediately assume a few of the following: smoker, rocker. redneck, dipstick. mini truck, tank top, anger management, acid-washed denim, fast food, meth, fentanyl, deadbeat dad, double negatives, use of the phrase “my old lady,” missing teeth, skid marks (both on the pavement and in the undershorts), monster truck rallies, WWE, goatees, backne, Slim Jims, double wides, down by the river, BMX bikes, sexual harassment, “no means no”, and an uttered “wutter you lookin’ at?” Though, I did see one in line for coffee yesterday that worked at 7 Salon—a bit of a unicorn—he was heavily tattooed, buffed-out and wore tight everything in black (and a choker!) I then imagined all the botox-lipped, peroxided menopausal women’s marriages he was probably currently in the process of wrecking—a modern day Warren Beatty in “Shampoo”—oh, the power of the mullet! Imagine the poor husbands’ confusion when they find both short and long (and curly!) black hairs left promiscuously on their sheets and pillows. Blecchh.
Some of my favorite colorful synonyms for this skull-topping, neck-dusting phenomenon are (forgive the list, but bear with me—it’ll hopefully be worth it):
Business in the Front, Party in the Back
Tennessee Top Hat
Shlonk (short + long)
Achy Breaky Bad Mistakey
Chop & Drop
El Camino Headrest
The “Git ‘im, Cletus”
Rain Drain Mane
You see, it’s not a hairstyle, it’s a lifestyle. I’m bald, so I do not have the wherewithal (or the strength of marriage) to grow the ring of fire—that rare mullet that’s usually only spied when the perpetrator’s ball cap is jostled off while he’s being fitted for handcuffs—the whiteness of the bald pate contrasting brilliantly with the sunburnt lower half of the tobaccoed puss.
Virtually every guy in my high school had this haircut at some point—the only thing worse in retrospect was the tight halo-perm that several of the young gentlemen inexplicably opted for. That grandmotherly helmet couldn’t be flicked off the collar and shook like a lion’s mane. In fact, it would’ve probably been easier to pick the few non-mullets out of the yearbook…the bowl cuts, the long-everywheres (these guys smoked and were actually kind of cool), the pig shaves, the parted-on-the-side/I’ve-got-