Horismus (hor-is’-mus): Providing a clear, brief definition, especially by explaining differences between associated terms.

Rock and roll. It is a type of dance performed by adolescent males and females as a part of Western cultures’ mating rituals. Rock and roll also refers to the music accompanying and stimulating the ritual dancing. I was a teen-aged victim of rock and roll’s carnal allure, wiggling provocatively on the high school gym dance floor, trying to attract a mate to go steady with. Then, I noticed a girl wiggling in my direction. She was with a group of friends, but only she was wiggling. I ducked into the boys room to check my hair and the fake sideburns I started wearing after Elvis became popular. I used pomade to keep my hair in place. It was an elaborate curling swell, like a wave crashing down on my forehead at high tide. My hair was my salvation, it’s grandeur eclipsed all of my imperfections—my unibrow, my big feet, my acne, my big ears, my mole, my chubbiness. My hair took them all down—it was a beacon of coolness. It was a shining light showing the babes the way into my arms. At least, that’s what I imagined.

I went back out to the gym. “Leader of the Pack” was playing. I loved the motorcycle sound. I looked across the gym and she was gone. “Damn, if my hair wasn’t so high maintenance, maybe I could’ve met her, and possibly fallen in love,” I thought as I headed outside for a Lucky. Luckies we’re my brand—l.s.m.f.t.—Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. Back then, you could buy smokes when you were 12 and they only cost 25 cents a pack. I lit up and looked down the sidewalk. There she was smoking what looked like a Marlboro. I gave my curl a little twist and walked down the sidewalk toward her. She took a big drag on her smoke, smiled, and blew the smoke in my face. I choked on her smoke and she said “What’s the matter baby? Can’t you take it?” I laughed my tough guy laugh and asked her “Were you wiggling at me back in there?” “What if I was, baby?” She asked, and slowly licked her lips. This made me crazy.

I threw down my cigarette and shook my head a little—it was like my hair was sweet-talking her, saying “be my little baby, my only baby.” The girl heard my hair and stepped closer to me. Then, suddenly a gust of wind blew my hair askew. It was like the girl awakened from a trance. She stepped back and looked at me with her nose curled up like I smelled. She threw her cigarette on the ground and angrily said “You’re one of those hair boys my mother told me about.—all hair, no soul. You worship rock and roll.” “It’s not like that baby, my hair is just a hobby of mine like my electric trains or doing picture puzzles. I just finished the Grand Canyon yesterday. Intellectually challenging.”

She calmed down and asked me my name: “Roger” I said. She told me her name was Betsy. The wind had died down. I knew as soon as I got my hair back in place, that she would be mine, all mine. I stepped behind a tree and pulled out my tortoise shell comb and pocket mirror. I worked my hair like pasta primavera—tossing it vigorously. When I got to the wave I said the “Hair Prayer” and, gently twisting the comb, resurrected the shining wave. When I popped out from behind the tree she looked at me and walked slowly toward me. “Hair we go!” I thought as she neared me. Then, another gust of wind flattened my wave. The spell was broken for the second time. “Ewwww” said Betsy as she turned and headed back to the gym.

I had to get something more powerful to hold my hair in place. I heard there was an old bearded man in the park selling “Rock Juice.” Supposedly, it would harden your hair in place like a rock. I bought some and tried it. It hardened my hair all right, but it was made from clear lacquer diluted with turpentine. I should’ve known when I smelled it, but I was in a hurry to try it out. My parents had my head shaved, so did a lot of others whose sons had tried “Rock Juice.” Now, the shaved head look has caught on, especially since Yul Brenner shaved his head for “The King and I.” I saw Betsy again and she asked if she could rub my head.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

A print edition of The Daily Trope is available from Amazon under the title of The Book of Tropes.

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