The mullet, the haircut and the passing of an era.

HIS name is Dave.

He’s not the first Dave I’ve known.

The first Dave was back when I was in 1st class, aged six. A long time ago.

That Dave was, strictly speaking, not a Dave at all. He was a David, never a Dave.

I can still picture him because we ended up at the same public high school to finish the Higher School Certificate, after years in Catholic schools.

That David was quiet. I don’t remember ever having a real conversation with him because he always sat up the back and I was one of the noisy ones consigned to seats close to the teacher. But David was very smart, and decent.

Daves or Davids, in my experience, tend to be like that. Dependable. They’re good to have around when something goes wrong like your car breaks down, or your house is threatened by bushfire, or the family’s pet guinea pig drowns in a backyard swimming pool and someone has to whisk the little corpse out of sight of the kiddies. A Dave knows what to do in a crisis.

The next Dave that I can think of was a real Dave, never a David.

He was the best friend of my then boyfriend and his mother was friendly with my Mum.

He was a noisier kind of Dave. He left school early, liked a beer and had a courtly, old-fashioned way with his girlfriends that was endearing. He wasn’t particularly good looking, and I doubt whether he’s ever read a book in his life, but he had the teeth of a rich American Hollywood actor and a smile that would humble Tom Cruise. He became a mechanic.

If you’re a woman and your mechanic says “G’day, I’m Dave”, you tend to relax. A mechanic named Dave just seems much more likely to work on your car and not rip you off than a mechanic named . . . let’s see . .  Dwayne or Randy or Flash. And no disrespect intended to any Dwaynes, Randys or Flashes in the room.

Daves just have that dependability edge that comes with a name that’s solid and appears in the Old Testament. There are no Dwaynes or Randys in the Bible.

Daves just have that dependability edge that comes with a name that’s solid and appears in the Old Testament. There are no Dwaynes or Randys in the Bible.

I once worked with a Dave.

I was a young trainee nurse and he was a nurse’s aide. We worked night shifts together in a women’s orthopaedic ward of a busy Sydney public hospital for a few months, back in the day when a busy Sydney hospital left a 40-bed ward to the tender mercies of an 18-year-old with six months’ training, and a nurse’s aide.

That Dave was incredibly funny, and gay, and he taught me how to crochet.

We had busy nights on that ward, Dave and I, when too many patients couldn’t sleep or wanted bed pans or pain killers, or had more serious issues requiring senior staff to appear from other wards.

But I have lovely memories of sitting with Dave in a splash of lamplight in the nurses’ station at the centre of the ward, with our laps and legs covered by large, coloured, crocheted circles, our crochet hooks flashing, while he told me the kinds of fabulous stories only camp gay men can tell.

He was the only person I wanted to be with on the night one of our lovely elderly patients lay dying, as we sat with her for hours while she waited for her family to arrive from interstate.

He was Dave the Magnificent that night.

I run with some Daves.

There’s long-legged Dave whose tremendous stride puts him 500 metres ahead of everyone else while he doesn’t seem to break a sweat. There’s the other Dave – a quiet, sweet Christian with a beautiful family who turn up at events and cheer him on.

A couple of years ago I was crew for those Daves as they ran a 100 kilometre event with two of our women friends. The weather was appalling, the event was gruelling, and even driving from drink station to drink station was an effort. But those smiling Daves ran into each drink stop and laughed with the women about how ridiculous it all was, and weirdly wonderful.

Sometimes Daves tend to masochism, it must be said.

A friend of mine has a dog called Dave. He was named in the spirit of this age, where dogs and cats aren’t called Tiddles or Fluffy or Spot anymore, but names more in keeping with their elevation to Valued Family Member status. I have a dog called Lloyd, after all, although my sons named him. Left to my own devices I called my cat Puddy.

The dog called Dave is a small, fluffy, yappy, dopey mutt with a tendency to slobber. She loves him. Who am I to question it?

Finally, to the Dave I started with a few hundreds words ago.

We call him Big Dave because he’s extremely tall and his dimensions match his height. All in proportion, mind, but you can’t help thinking, “That’s a big man,” when you first see him, hence the name. Big Dave.

He’s a regular at my son’s cafe. While the rest of us can carry four or five chairs out at a time when we’re setting up, Big Dave will occasionally turn up very early and carry a dozen chairs in his arms, with ease, and a smile, and a booming commentary about whatever takes his fancy.

There’s one other thing Big Dave has been notable for. His mullet.

For as long as I’ve known him, which is a few years now, Dave has had a luxuriant, black, wonderfully wavy mullet that’s embraced his neck and lounged on his shoulders. That mullet has defined him in a way that only a haircut from the 1970s, that’s still proudly worn by a middle-aged man in 2017, can do.

And then it was gone.

Off in the distance about two weeks ago you would have heard a rumbling. You wouldn’t have been able to put a finger on the source of the noise, but you would have understood that something significant was going on, somewhere over the horizon.

That sound was hours of people clamping eyes on Big Dave sporting his new short back and sides, and blurting out: “Oh my God, the mullet’s dead.”

Strange times indeed.

This story Hair of the Dave first appeared on Newcastle Herald.