Alternately light and moving, Bad Haircut is a first collection of short stories about a boy growing up in Darwin, New Jersey, during the '70s and early '80s. Buddy is an ordinary boy whose life's dramas are acted out on the stage of his suburban streets. The first stories in the collection are the least satisfying. In ""The Weiner Man,"" Buddy is a Boy Scout who learns that the mascot of a hot-dog company is an old friend of his mother's; in ""Thirteen,"" he watches his friend Kevin struggle with his parents' divorce and find a fast girlfriend. The stories become more engaging as Buddy enters high school. In ""Race Riot,"" in which Buddy steals a black child's basketball after a rumble is canceled, and in ""Snowman,"" in which he mistakenly takes revenge for a fight on an innocent neighbor, Perrotta captures with humor and stinging observation the peer pressures that make good boys do stupid and cruel things with their friends. Buddy learns from his regret, and in ""Forgiveness,"" he admires a sensitive, honorable high school jock who stands up for himself in the face of conflict. In one of the funniest stories in the bunch, ""You Start to Live,"" Buddy takes driver's education with a racy classmate, Laura, who gives him his first taste of sex, a broken heart, and a bad haircut. In two stories later in the book, ""The Jane Pasco Fan Club"" and ""Just the Way We Were,"" Buddy struggles to find love with no luck -- Jane Pasco goes back to her old boyfriend, the mayor's son, who gets her on television, and prom-date Sharon turns out to be a lesbian. A balanced humorous and sometimes poignant collection, that, despite its strengths, may be more for the Sassy set than for that of the New Yorker.