Gel Hath No Fury





Hello, my name is Richard Boehmcke and I used to be addicted to hair gel.

Wow, that was tough.

It wasn’t always this way.

I mean, I was addicted to hair spray first. And hair spray will always be my first love. But when it comes to Gel, no addiction in my life was harder for me to kick.

My hair is kind of like a classroom of ADD 8 year olds on top of my head. It is confusing, nobody follows directions, and everybody is looking in a different direction.

But up until 5th grade I wasn’t aware that my hair was capable of such epic ridiculousity. My beautiful ignorance was still firmly in place courtesy of my mother. Always wanting her son to appear handsome, she combed my hair for the early part of my life, and she did it the same way my father did his; parted on the side.

But unlike my father who only used a couple of spritzes of hairspray to hold his hair in place, my hair required quite a few more something like 25 sprays of hair spray to get the hair to behave.

Looking back now I realize that between my mother, father, and sister we were probably responsible for most of the hairspray purchased in New York between 1987 and 1995.

It was around 6th grade that I branched out and started learning how to do my own hair, truly a momentous occasion in my life. This was also around the time of puberty where my face looked like a battlefield; my voice sounded like a broken cello, and when I walked it kind of looked like I was trying to roller-skate… on ice.

So with my life seemingly out of control my subconscious quickly latched on to the idea that if I couldn’t control what I sounded like, or what people thought of me, or how popular I was, I was going to do my damndest to make my hair look perfect.

This meant the end of hair spray and a rather unfortunate reinvention and subsequent love affair with hair gel. Seeing as I grew up on Long Island this was pretty much my birthright.

It is challenging to grow up in a place (Long Island) where hair gel is revered as though it had come straight from the hands of Jesus himself. Like in his most famous of stories Jesus hadn’t turned water into wine, but rather hair gel. So that none of his disciples would have to suffer from dry, lifeless hair, which was rumored to affect all of the apostles except Judas ironically.

I familiarized myself with all the myriad types of Dep. This fantastic manufacturer of hair product measured its different kinds of hair gel on a scale from 1 to 5. The first level I guess meaning “I don’t really care how I look,” to level 5 meaning, “I need to stand in a wind tunnel for my job.”

Later on Dep created levels 5 through 10. Now for the life of me I have not been able to distinguish sufficient differences between levels 1 and 10 but you can bet there IS a population using level 10. Those are my brethren from Long Island, those individuals who are fans of the hairstyle known as “The Blowout.”

The Blowout, for those of you unfamiliar, and I really don’t know how you could be, is a haircut where the owner appears to have exploded a large quantity of dynamite in the morning and then decided to leave the house without touching the hair.

I don’t know how this started, but I pray to god that it will one day stop. I don’t know how the first person that walked into the barbershop described this haircut.

“Hey yo, Barber man, you check this out. I want like, a haircut, but don’t like, don’t cut too much offs, ya know, and then take like, all the hair gels you got and make it look like I’m being sucked into the sky by like, a spaceship or some shit. Word?”

But while I never engaged in any hair gelling that made my noggin look like the wrong end of a turnip, I did use more than my share of hair gel.

In fact my love of hair gel was so profound that one year for Easter my mother bought me a VAT of hair gel. I’m not sure what the corollary was between Jesus rising from the dead and a “strong hold and lustrous shine” but I will gladly admit that having that much gel was completely unnecessary.

It was no less than 64 houses of bright yellow goo. It was the kind of jar you might have reached for had you been looking for some industrial coolant.

There was no spout, no nozzle, just a lid, which unscrewed allowing me to put my entire hand into and scoop out as much yellow confidence builder as I needed.

Never one for moderation, this made this activity the equivalent applying a glob of axle grease to lube up a jet turbine.

And my head may resemble many things, but “jet turbine” is one I have readily tried to avoid.

I think my mother and I can agree that was a mistake on both of our parts.

But can you really blame me?

I mean how else was I supposed to make people like me? A good personality? Kindness? Please, everyone knows those things don’t work in your teen years.

But alas these days I keep the amount of hair product I use to a minimum. And I anticipate it staying like that. Unless of course I come across a Bible with a new take on Easter. Something like:

"On the third day Jesus rose from the dead… and his hair looked FABULOUS!"