A Hairy Bromance

My son finds his long-lost follicle soulmate.

Something eerie happened the other day.

After our family trekked over the hill to Santa Cruz to score a killer deal on some surf clothes at the Rip Curl Outlet sale, we saw a guy manning a tent overflowing with board shorts, rash guards and wetsuits.

The salesdude was 20ish, tall and blond, clad in a flannel button-down and black jeans. His matted blond hair rested on top of his head like large tumbleweeds.

I stopped and rubbed my eyes. Did I just climb out of a DeLorean time machine? Because I could've sworn this guy was my son Saxon, 10 years from now.

Saxon is 12 and hates brushing his hair. Always has. For his ninth birthday, he asked if he could grow dreadlocks. Every morning is a battle.

“Did you brush your hair?” I ask. He waves an Ouchless brush through a few strands, caps his wild mane with a Volcom baseball cap and sails out the door.

“I’m a surfer, Mom,” he shrugs, when I plead/threaten/go ballistic.

Secretly I love that Saxon has his own style and doesn’t care what others think. But I worry about the water cooler chat in the teacher’s lounge. Did you see Saxon Ratcliff’s hair? What kind of derelict mom lets her son leave the house looking like that?

It turned out Saxon’s Ghost of the Future had a name, Josh.

“I’m having the weirdest moment,” I told Josh. “You look exactly like my son in 10 years. He is your mini-me.” I pointed to Saxon who was working his dad for a super-pricey, not-on-sale Santa Cruz sweatshirt he couldn’t live without.

“Oh man,” Josh laughed. “We do look alike. Must be the hair.”

“Yes, something tells me you’re not big on grooming, either.”

“Nah, not really.”

“How long has it been since you last brushed? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Uh, about a week and a half.”

“Ten days? Wow. Are you growing dreads?”

“Nope. Just don’t like brushing much.”

“Did your mom nag you when you were younger?” I asked.

“All the time,” he laughed.

Josh was darling. And sweet. And helpful. He found me a size 29 in a cute pair of board shorts printed with martinis and pineapples. He agreed to let me take a picture of him and Saxon in the parking lot. He even suggested a better angle to reduce the glare.

If Saxon was embarrassed, he didn’t let on. He amicably posed (front and back view), then high-fived Josh and jumped into the car wearing his new $50 Santa Cruz sweatshirt that within a month will be forgotten on some athletic field or at the Apple Store, never to be seen again.

“Josh was boss,” Saxon said to his big brother.

“I know, right?” replied Tanner.

Then Saxon cracked his window and stuck his head out, his shaggy locks waving in the offshore breeze like a golden retriever’s. “JOSH!” he yelled. “You’re a PIMP!”

Josh smiled and waved back, his shaggy locks fluttering in unison.

I’d like to say that, thanks to our serendipitous encounter with the Ghost of Saxon’s Future, I changed my ways. I’d like to report that, similar to Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, who gifted Bob Cratchit with a turkey and a big raise, I relaxed my militant state and let Saxon grow dreadlocks down to his butt.

Not a chance. When my son is 18, he can do whatever his heart desires. Until then, it’s my Ouchless way or the highway.

Louise Leprohon July 11, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Really cute. What does "You're a pimp mean?" Something good I am sure.
Kelly July 11, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Wow, Kim - a little eerie!
Kim Ratcliff July 11, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Well, when “You're the bomb!” became passe, some kids started using pimp as a compliment. Not crazy about this new slang but oh well…
MichaelJ July 11, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Kim, we need your expertise on teenage slang. I'm listening to my kids and I can't understand half of the things they are saying. Stuff like "That is sick!", "She's fly", "Bounce" or "Tool". You have the experts in-house so maybe you can give us the latest lingo so we can start "chillin'" with the kids...
Kim Ratcliff July 11, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Michael, all I know is “douche” is huge and “hobo” is making a comeback.
Steve July 11, 2011 at 09:53 PM
I used to call everyone trolls..And I still do..Then Charlie Sheen started saying it (or never stopped saying it)..It is not a term of endearment..The more modern version is grom..
George Royer July 11, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Kim, I'm 85 and wear a beanie hat with a propeller on the top. Every man to his own tastes. Some pass and say "nice hat", others stare and wonder why an oldster would wear such a thing. I enjoyed your story and could feel for your son. Glad he met Josh!
Kim Ratcliff July 12, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Awww, George, what a sweet comment. I'll be sure to tell you you look like a pimp when I see you around LG wearing your propeller beanie:)
Brian Delgado July 26, 2011 at 06:57 PM
kim, i'm a teacher who had the opportunity to work with josh when he was in high school down in san diego. i know his family pretty well. i have to say after ten years of working in schools, he is one of the most polite, kind, respectful, and exceptional young men i have encountered. saxon is lucky to have met him. and i loved the article. thanks for sharing. shout out to all the non-hair groomers (einstein famously being one). from experience, i can say it is a pain to brush those beautiful, long locks daily.
Kim Ratcliff July 26, 2011 at 08:14 PM
Hi Brian, You are so sweet to write. Loved your thoughts on Josh! I hope we run into him again. (Do you know if Josh read the article?) Enjoy your summer.
Josh Baker July 28, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Hey Kim! This is Josh This is so awesome! Never thought it would be on the internet. You're visit was definitely one of the most memorable ones seeing that nobody ever really asks for my picture. :)
Kim Ratcliff July 28, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Hi Josh! I'm so glad the article made its way to you. We'll come visit you again in the fall. Hope you are enjoying that warm SD water :) Love, The Ratcliffs


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