When I was a kid living in suburban New York, there was nobody cooler than Joe Namath, Super Bowl winning quarterback for the New York Jets.
They called him "Broadway Joe". He partied until dawn with celebrities. He sported fur coats. He wore white shoes when playing. White shoes. Nobody wore white shoes. Nobody else could pull it off. Joe Namath could.
A lot of us on our school teams had long hair, too.
To be like Joe Namath.
The first day of football practice, when the coach saw hair curling out of the back of helmets (carefully manipulated to look the way Joe Namath's hair curled out of his Jets helmet), he ordered those with offending hair to get haircuts or not bother coming back to practice.
I wasn't a football player. But I played lacrosse and the football coach also coached lacrosse. I had been dreaming of the spring when I would don my gear and become the heartthrob of every girl in school when they saw my Namath-like hair flowing out of my helmet.
Of course, I looked nothing like Namath and had none of his athletic ability. No celebrity friends. No fur coat either. My hair wasn't even the same color.
It also outside the range of my raging teen-aged hormones to imagine that hair sticking out of a helmet would have absolutely no appeal to any female outside my fantasies.
None of that mattered when lacrosse season arrived.
The first day of practice, those of us with long hair were instructed to get haircuts by a coach who made it clear that he "didn't need hippies on his team and that we looked like girls." Coaches were different back then.
The next day, I was one of three without haircuts. The coach noticed and reiterated his edict.
The following day, I was the only one who hadn't visited a barbershop. I was channeling the rebelliousness of the day. Standing up to authority. Making my stand against the establishment. Giving the finger to authority. Burning the draft card I was still years away from being eligible for.
Unimpressed, the coach snarled at me that I had until Monday to get in line.
That Monday I stomped into the coach's office, slapped a large pile of hair on his desk and demanded, "Satisfied?"
He was momentarily stunned. Maybe by my boldness.
Or maybe because he was relishing his power and the fruits of his bullying.
Or perhaps he was just grossed out by the large clump of hair on his desk.
"Fine," he said. "Suit up and get to your pre-practice laps."
I stomped out.
He couldn't see the wide grin on my face.
I hadn't gotten a haircut.
After seeing the football players get de-Namath-ized, I had saved all my hair from my haircuts from football season until lacrosse season. That was the hair I'd angrily presented to the coach.
That day when I hit the field I was Joe Namath.
My hair curled gently from beneath my helmet and, along with the warm spring sun, I could feel the gazes of the adoring women.