There is a dearth of mullets to be had in the fair city of Ann Arbor. I looked. Oh yes, I looked.
The mullet population of Ann Arbor is either non-existent, in hiding or cleverly disguised by baseball caps or in pony tails. I was able to find plenty of hippies but that”s long in front, back and sides. And the hair tends to be filthy, to boot.
No, I was looking for the crisp, clean, possibly greased look of the classic mullet, that interesting convergence of business and pleasure. There are few, no doubt, but the mullet seems to have taken a serious fall from grace, at least among the echelons of higher education.
And so, the decision was made. If I wanted to truly understand the mullet, if I wanted to feel what a mullet feels, if I wanted to live as a mullet lives, I had to become a mullet.
It wasn”t a decision worth taking lightly. Everyone knows that a mullet is so much more than a hairstyle. It is, in fact, a lifestyle. Was I willing to give up all that I held sacred, all the societal mores that I had heretofore held so dear? While appearaces do not in general make a man, the presence of a mullet, I feared, would change the very person that I am.
Was I willing to forgo all that I held sacred, all in the name of journalism? The decision was made I am a journalist first, fashionable member of society second.
The cutting of the mullet
With firm resolve, I sauntered into Campus Barber and Beauty Salon, located at 524 East William Street. The first roadblock in the quest for mulletude came in the form of a barber who, adamently standing by her role as an artiste de la tte, refused to cut a mullet. “I”m anti-mullet,” she proclaimed clearly taking the “Beauty” part of her institution”s name very seriously. On one hand, this discrimination against the mullet saddened me, but I can”t help but respect her unwillingness to defame her own profession.
All was not lost, as my savior with scissors arrived in the form of a Mr. Hickey, a knowledgeable barber who was willing and able to cut the defamed mullet. The adventure began.
As he cut lock after precious lock from the front of my head (steering well clear, of course, from the back), we chatted about the ins-ands-outs of the mullet. (I suspect that he was being especially sure to occupy my mind even turning me away from the mirror for an extended photo-op in order to ensure that I did not break down into tears while watching the destruction of my pride).
The politically correct term for the mullet is a bi-level, as Mr. Hickey informed me. He also assured me that, though it is not as popular as it was in the 1980s, the bi-level is still asked for among certain circles of his clientelle. The friendly conversation sufficiently distracted me from the snickers of the other patrons and, much to my chagrin, members of my own entourage. Within half an hour, the deed was done I was transformed from an out-going Ann Arbor socialite to an introspective, chastised mullet.
I had become what every man fears.
Life according to the mullet
That”s how it began, but it was so far from the end. The purpose of joining the ranks of the mullets was to come to a greater understanding of the mullet. I unfortunately (or, perhaps, very fortunately) had no job interviews, no important meetings indeed, nothing that would somehow determine the further events of my life. Perhaps it is best that my future was not determined by events undertaken while owning and operating a mullet.
I went to the bar that night, to unveil the mullet to the public. It was strange, to say the least I was still unused to the new “business in front, party in back” motif and suffered from an inexplicable inability to decide what part of my dual-hairstyle should dominate. Clearly, the party should have dominated in a bar setting, but I hadn”t yet grown fully into my new skin, so to speak. Though I found myself garnering more attention than normal, it was the sort of attention given to the kid who smelled like fish in the fourth grade.
Needless to say, I returned home alone that night.
But the plot continued to thicken. A trip to East Lansing brought me a further level of ostracism one that was even more surprising given the general lack of social standing of the average denizen of our state”s great Cow College. Is it possible that the mullet actually occupies a lower spot in the social strata than Michigan State students? Is it possible that anyone occupies a lower spot in the hierarchy than a Spartan?
Horrifying, but true.