I fell on my face in Fresno at a very tender age, and there’s a jagged scar where the middle of a mustache ought to be. Any chance I had at a mustache in college were ruined. I know, I tried. A big kid with a wisp of a mustache. Sad. I was doubly afflicted, actually, as my magnificent widow’s peak, long since lost, kept me from parting my long hair down the middle to look like the guy on the cover of Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4. A record I never owned, actually, but it was for sale at the local Ralph’s and every time I was sent to the store to buy milk or Hamburger Helper there was Ozzy Osbourne flashing his inane peace signs from the LP display rack, his hair parted with ying and yang perfection. With my gap where a mustache middle should be and the part in my hair coming to grief on that widow’s peak, a hippie I would never be. Just as well. Punk rock happened and hair became way short and mustaches unheard of and all that psychic follicle sturm und drang of my teen years became moot and forgotten.
Or so I remembered it. But recently I just saw Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 in a record bin and realized, to my astonishment, that Ozzy’s hair was not parted down the middle. Not at all. It’s just sort of a squiggly unwashed mess, what you can see of it at all. I must have been thinking of some other rock star, one with perfectly bisected hair, and gotten him confused over the years with Ozzy Osbourne. I stared at the cover, blinking, realizing that my entire life, from teenhood to the waning daze of middle age, had been spent under the impression that Ozzy’s hair was parted iconically down the middle on the cover of that album. I can still see him now, in fact, his hair parted perfectly, gazing at me in line at Ralphs from the front of that album, waving his peace signs and looking so cool that all the absolutely hottest chicks in school–the ones with their skin tight ass-patched jeans who smelled like pot and patchouli and wore no underwear even on the coldest days–would have been his sex slaves. The same chicks who never even knew I existed despite the fact that I sat next to them in English class. And now I see how wrong I was (about Ozzy’s hair, I mean.) How wrong we can be our whole lives. Memory is a cruel thing, it plays tricks, it lies. It alters the course of our lives, turning failed hippies into punk rockers. But it’s too late to change now, my life has been lived and this essay written, and unless some of you pull out that album and look for yourself, you’ll never know the difference.