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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Column: Flow-pinion

I’ve been growing my hair since February, 2010. That’s almost 15 consecutive months without a haircut, which is around 450 straight days or roughly 20 bottles of conditioner and a handful of broken hair bands. For many college students, doing any one activity for that long becomes extremely difficult as classes, work and other responsibilities begin to pile up. For most men, however, the anxieties of growing one’s hair long so late in life make it a near impossible feat, a feat that is the subject of today’s flow-pinion column.

The first thing to understand about college males who embark on this journey is that they’re no longer trying to “fight the man” or bolster a career in male modeling by growing their hair out. Today, America’s young men are simply trying to achieve the perfect flow.

Although the term “flow” has its origins in athletics, it has become universal in the last few years. According to Urban Dictionary, flow can be defined as “long, curly, or wavy hair that would flow out the back of someone’s lacrosse, hockey, or football helmet and curl up around the back of it.” In my own experience, the quest to achieve this highest of male stylistic ideals comes in four distinct chapters.

Chapter 1: Origins. One dark evening, perhaps after a gnarly practice or a night of booze and excess, the gods of flow will come to you in a prophetic dream vision. They will carry Chinese spears with red horse-hair tassels and garlands of roses. They will place one upon your neck (a garland, not a spear, you idiot) and they will bestow upon you a divine quest: to grow your hair out to the perfect length – beyond short, but that you not enter the dreaded realm of overflow. They tell you they celebrate those that find the perfect middle ground and promise to seal their fates in the LiBro de Flow!

Of course, this will be an exciting time for you. You’ve been chosen by the flow gods and elected to explore uncharted territory and grow your hair out. You’ll spend additional time in the bathroom mirror pulling your hair upward and measuring it crudely with the space between your finger and thumb. Your roommate will ask you why your helmet is in the bathroom. You’ll self-consciously ask your friends and teammates how it looks and they’ll shrug uncomfortably because it looks the same as it always does. For your hair is still short, and immense challenges await you.

Chapter 2: The Awkward Stage. It’s been three months since the gods of flow came to you in your dreams and you’re beginning to understand why they cautioned you that this quest so often goes uncompleted. Your hair falls onto your forehead as if to spite your face. You can no longer roll out of bed looking put-together, for the few inches of hair you’ve acquired appears lumbering and ungainly without a shower. Your own mother insinuates you look retarded. Her words, not mine.

Women will rebuff your advances in social settings as they think to themselves, “I might have let him buy me a Cosmo and done something sexually regrettable with him if his hair were just a bit shorter or a bit longer.” The world is no longer your oyster my awkward friend, but with patience, the gods of flow will reward you for your sacrifice, for they are generous and well endowed.

Chapter 3: Flowfection. Your hard work and determination doing absolutely nothing other than watching your hair grow is beginning to pay dividends. Lacrosse season is here and the hair triumphantly exiting the back of your helmet has given you an unmatched confidence, quickly turning what would’ve been a 30-point season into a 50-point one.

Your performance on the field has gained the favor of the women who once rebuked you, but you can’t be bothered with their advances. You’re in the good graces of your professors and you can finally flip your hair at the Rec Pool. You will stand on the diving board to see the gods of flow on the grass, giving you a slow clap. You will then execute a swan dive.

Chapter 4: “You need a haircut.” This is what your best friend will say to you. With these words, the quest for flow will end with success. His suggestion will shake you at your very foundation because you’ve lived this dream for more than a year, but now, you’re beginning to overflow, and the flow gods warned you about that.

JOSH ROTTMAN is as JOSH ROTTMAN does. He can be reached at jjrottman@ucdavis.edu.


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  2. […] Now I just finished watching Almost Famous for the first time (and you’re thinking, “there’s a movie with Jason Lee sporting epic flow you hadn’t seen?” I know, dude. I’m sorry). You see, I’ve been a fan of a man’s hair making an honest depiction of his character for as long as I could grow it. I even wrote a flowpinion column about it once. […]

  3. Or for that matter, a 25 point season into a 61 point season…but who’s really counting? Excellence, good sir. Nicely done. If you’re free tonight, come over and join me, Trev, Ginsy, Walsh and Kyle for another sit-down-circular-train-brushing party.


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