I grew up during the 1960’s and ended that decade married. It was the beginning of the era of the Hippie, that sub-species of the Genus Young Person who included among their attributes a fascination with hair grown to broadcast their membership in that faction of my generation. Hair was everywhere. Men grew theirs long, accented by beards and moustaches, to announce their rejection of societies’ constraints. Women let it grow under their arms and on their legs in the pursuit of being “natural”. George Carlin had a funny poem about it and the Broadway musical “Hair” ran for years. Though a little older than most who became hippies, I did participate to a small extent, growing my hair to near shoulder length and sporting a moustache.
But now, I am bald. I say that like an alcoholic confessing at an AA meeting, “Hello, I’m Mike, and I’m bald”. But bald I am and all I can do is to live with the benefits and drawbacks of being so deprived.
My father was bald but I’d heard that Male Pattern Baldness was inherited from one’s maternal grandfather. And, since he died in his 70’s with a full head of hair, I was confident my pointy head would be hair-covered my entire life. That particular bubble burst one day in Los Angeles police station command post. While looking at a bank of surveillance monitors trying to see myself on camera I noticed a bald head moving from side to side and in shock realized it was me! I had this huge, and I mean huge – and shiny – bald spot on the crown of my head! Once I’d convinced myself it was me and that I wasn’t wearing a yarmulke life was never to be the same. No longer could I look in the mirror and be confident that the hair I saw extend over my whole head – in fact, I no longer could assume this treacherous spot was not going to grow. It also raised doubt about my theory of where baldness come from or the paternity of my mother!
From then on things began to change. My 30th birthday cake was a bust of a brown-haired guy with a moustache and a bald spot! A neighbor teamed up with our barber to plant a bottle of “hair restorer” on my front door step, a bottle from which a clump of air protruded from the cap. It was noticeably colder without a hat. I was the first to know when it rained. And, I suffered many a sunburn on my tender noggin not to mention that I bump it into things much more often since I have no hair to give me that split-second warning that it is about to crash land.
I’ll admit there was some consideration given to various “remedies” available at the time. I did change hair styles, going from a part to no part, but thankfully never stooping to “throw hair” that mysterious style where available hair is grown extra long then swirled and arranged over the sparsely populated spots (here, think Donald Trump). There was also a spray paint that came in colors matching your remaining hair to disguise the shiny spots.
Finally, though, too little hair remained to manipulate enough to bolster my self-image. I got tired of chasing a few remaining hairs trying to make it appear I was not what I was. My wife convinced me to get it cut short – bald man short. We went to a barber and he did cut it shorter. But at lunch afterwards my wife decided it wasn’t short enough so back we went. He did cut it shorter but not to a bald man’s length. That night, at home, I gave up all hope and cut it myself using home clippers. I was now indisputably bald and had to convince myself that “bald is beautiful”.
Still, there are benefits. I don’t worry about the wind anymore. It cuts down on my morning routine – no hair to wash, dry or comb just a once over with a wash rag. I don’t have to waste time or money on haircuts. And it is fun teasing with the grandkids about my hair. I tell them I’m not bald, I just choose to cut it this way. Or, sometimes, I claim it is just growing inside my head instead of out. As proof of this theory, I can point to the other places hair is now growing wildly – like my bushy eyebrows, my back, my ears or my nose! And, once, just for fun, I’d like to shave my head and then let it and my facial hair all grow out together – to become a human Chia Pet. But my wife won’t let me, claiming that is too Old Man-like.
So my advice to others who are hair-challenged is just this. Don’t waste your hormones growing hair. This is freedom Baby!