Politics Magazine

Hair to the Throne

Posted on the 14 August 2013 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins

Absalom was the first of the big-hair rock stars. According to the book of 2 Samuel, his hair was so luxuriant that he had it cut once a year and it weighed two hundred shekels (about five pounds, not sterling). This little bit of foreshadowing in 2 Samuel 14 will appear again in the story of Absalom’s demise, as he is caught in a great oak tree by his untrimmed hair. I’ve always related to Absalom on the coiffure issue—I don’t like getting my hair cut. In my more self-analytical moods, I relate it to having stepped on a bee’s nest as a child and having received multiple stings on my bare legs. That horrible buzzing of bees in my ears stayed with me, and whenever the girl at SuperCuts grabs the clippers and the bee-like drone nears my ears I flinch in terror. Like Absalom I have rather an abundance of hair, and so when I’m shorn, it is easily noticeable. I don’t like people to comment on it, however. One of the most banal phrases, not to mention an utter tautology, is when someone smartly observes, “you got a haircut.” With what am I to follow this up? “Yes—I was feeling a bit too much like Absalom in the forest of Ephraim where Joab found him dangling in the tree after David followed the advice of Hushai instead of Ahithophel”?


While walking through a mall recently, I commented to a friend how all the stores seemed to be clothing and shoe stores. You never find a bookstore any more, or museum shops, or anything approaching profundity. People really mostly care about what they look like on the outside. I’m more of an interior guy. Not among those generally cast among the hunky, good-looking examples of masculinity, I’m small, bookish, and still wear clothes that I’ve owned for two decades. My hair is usually out of control as well, but not in a fashionable Einsteinian way. I am, I fear, the heir of Absalom.

Religion used to be a source of profundity. It was, once upon a time, the queen of sciences, and philosophy was her handmaid. Seeing the way that religion appears in the media today, however, I’d have to guess she’s been shopping at the mall. Those who measure religion by the cut of her hem rather than by how deep her thoughts may be, have brought her into the limelight of popular culture. She used to be all about the meaning of life and offered a reason for many of us to get out of bed in the morning. Absalom’s trouble started out when he fell in lust with his half-sister Tamar. His addiction to appearances led him to bad decisions that ultimately divided David’s kingdom and cost him his very life. And I guess that’s the price you pay for not getting a haircut on a regular basis.

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