Dad's response was "No one tells you when to get your hair cut but me."—and indeed I was scheduled for a cut over at the Polish barbershop in Edison Park.Now, however, it was an issue of authority.No trimming would occur.
During this period towards the end of secondary school I had been doing occasional weekend volunteer work downtown for the ACLU.Dad was a member and student rights were an issue which came up repeatedly in their magazine.Over the course of time I'd met a number of young attorneys so, that weekend, when I went to the office and told the story, everyone offered to help should it come to legal action.
This was enough for Dad.I was expected to come into school with a parent on Monday, hair trimmed and shame-faced, for a meeting with the authorities.Dad, who usually didn't even bother to look at my report cards or show any interest whatsoever in my schooling, volunteered to be the parent.
The meeting was attended by the Dean, Principal Clyde Watson and, briefly, by Assistant Dean Barker in the Principal's office.It began civilly enough with Dad asking about the dress code policies.It ended as an argument between him and the Dean and Principal about the war in Vietnam.The decisive factor, however, was Dad's threat of legal action.The school didn't want bad publicity and in loco parentis obviously wasn't a principle which would hold in my case.I was readmitted and didn't cut my hair again for nine years.
I went on to see the filmed version of Catch-22 but never got around to the book again.It was perhaps too real, too much like the petty authoritarianism of high school.It also wasn't a very good film—at least I didn't think it funny, just depressing.
The fact that I hadn't finished Heller nagged.I almost always finish what I begin.Consequently, when I found this other novel by him, a novel which promised to be about, among other things, classical Athens, my reluctance was overcome.This might work.I bought the thing and finished it.Unfortunately, as with my sampling of Catch-22 back in high school, I wasn't much impressed despite a general sympathy for Heller's critique of the United States.
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