Party in the Back

By JAMIE MASSENGALE,

I was watching the Clemson and Notre Dame football game on TV last week when I saw something that I was not expecting. 

With Clemson dominating the game and Notre Dame having to punt on nearly every single drive, the cameras focused on Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome. 

Newsome, with his team on the ropes, was there on the sideline donning a unique hairstyle.

Actually, it's more of a lifestyle than a hairstyle and I definitely know a thing or two about hair. 

Roughly a decade ago, I made one of the craziest decisions I've ever made.  It was a decision that changed my life – and the course of time.

Like Tyler Newsome, I grew a mullet. 

Now, not everyone can just up and decide to grow a mullet. I had contemplated the idea before diving hair first into this type of culture.  

There were many circumstantial factors that played into my decision to grow hockey hair – including my desire to pay tribute to the late Patrick Swayze. 

If you have ever seen Road House or Next of Kin, you can clearly see that Patrick Swayze rocked a mullet at one point in his career.

Swayze passed away in 2009 from pancreatic cancer and the idea of growing a mullet morphed into a way to honor him. 

Another goal of mine was to donate my hair to a hair charity. 

And thus, the Official Patrick Swayze Tribute Mullet was born. 

One of the craziest things you might ever do in life is go to a salon (or barber shop) and tell them you want a mullet. 

The lady who was cutting my hair at the time said, "Are you serious?"  

She was apprehensive and said she didn't want me to tell people where I was getting my hair cut. 

Well, with an attitude like that, she did not make the cut (pun intended).

Eventually, I had to come to terms and seek out a new stylist. I felt like I needed someone who could go along with me on this journey and not be embarrassed to say they cut my hair the way I wanted it cut.

My friend Kayla Morris became my new stylist and the mullet started to take shape. Every time I would call her to make an appointment I would say, “Let's get down to business.” 

My boss and everyone at work was dumbfounded by my decision. I think the only reason they allowed me to continue working there was because I planned to donate it when it got to a certain length. 

The Patrick Swayze Tribute Mullet was going strong and the party in the back was really starting to rage. 

Not many people will understand what growing a mullet does to your personality.  In a very strange way, the hairstyle takes over and it becomes like a superhero's cape.

I was walking around town like I was Kenny Powers from the HBO show, Eastbound and Down. 

My attitude was becoming a little more amplified.

People would ask to take pictures with me. People would take pictures of me behind my back.  The mullet had taken over. 

In 2012, I decided it was time to part ways with the mullet. Because the mullet had taken on this life of its own, it was only right to send if off in style. 

I talked with my friend, Abigail Lenz Allen, about having a party where I would cut my hair off. 

Well, if you know Abigail, once the idea is there, the wheels start churning and before you know it, the Mullet Release Party was a thing. 

Abigail and a bunch of my friends put together one of the coolest and most interesting parties to have ever taken place in Downtown Hattiesburg.

We had a silent auction.

We had raffles for prizes that were donated and pictures of me. 

Mark Mann played music. 

We even had a goofy thing called "The Mullet Toss," where I threw a fake mullet over my head (much like a bride throws a bouquet) onto a group of squares that people had purchased for $20 a square. 

The winning square won half of the money from the game. 

We auctioned off the rights to cut off my hair and my friend Robert Vardaman bid something like $325 to be the person to cut my hair.

At the end of the night we had raised more than $1,000 for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Pantene Beautiful Lengths had a healthy donation of hair. 

Though the mullet may be gone, its impact is still felt in Hattiesburg. 

The mission of The Official Patrick Swayze Tribute Mullet was not just to pay tribute to Patrick Swayze but showcase a way in which people can be charitable.

Sometimes when we start something, we never really know how it will end. That was certainly the case for my mullet. It took on a life of its own.  

 

Jamie Massengale is a native of Meridian who has lived in the Hub City for a number of years. He’s currently a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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