My Hair: A Requiem

I'm losing my hair. Now, don't all of you cry out in righteous indignation, "Noooo, Ken, you're not losing your h—... Oh, excuse us, Mr. Gandhi, we thought you were someone else." For it's true. No one even photographs me anymore at parties; the flash bounces off my bare head, blinding everyone, causing the host to stumble into the onion dip. I'm losing my hair. To which my mother replies, "Well, grass doesn't grow on a busy street." And to which my father re-replies, "Yes, but there's no sense in shingling the barn when the horses have run away."

And then friends comment, "Now, don't fret, Ken! Lots of well-known attractive movie stars and celebrities are follicly challenged. Why, there's Yul Brynner from The King and I, and Phil Collins, for example, and... Captain Picard on Star Trek... and, uh... you know, it's sure raining a lot lately." I suppose those guys are examples. However, Yul Brynner also had a Roman chin and could bench-press your house; he also had these incredibly nifty sunglasses that I've never been able to locate at any Wal-Mart anywhere. And Phil Collins is famous because he is a wealthy, talented musician. Otherwise he would be "that bald guy who sorts mail downstairs."

Because it hurts a man's pride to be balding. He just can't walk into the hardware store for new spark plugs with his chest held high as he could before. It harms his self-esteem. It disrupts his place in the social hierarchy. It plays, yea, it tinkers and malevolently conspires to besmirch his philosophical faith in man which has shone out to him as a silent but enduring guiding star in his earthly pilgrimage.

Plus, it makes it harder to get chicks. And that allows inventors and businessmen to play upon this insecurity. So there was a point when I decided, slamming my fist on the proverbial table, saying the proverbial "ouch!", that I wouldn't put up with it any longer. I decided to look for hair treatments to reverse my condition. Unfortunately, you can't just ask your doctor for such products; you must rely on the same respected companies that make, say, X-ray goggles. Most of these products had names which obviously indicated years of sophisticated research, such as 'Uncle Snort's Dandelion Hair Elixir.' I never knew rural Minnesota was such a hot location for medical innovations.

Anyway, I tried a few of these treatments. Most of them involved rubbing some oily lotion on my scalp that made me smell like potpourri. Others involved drinking a syrupy liquid that tasted like brake fluid. One involved tonic pills that looked suspiciously like those Flintstones chewable vitamins. For one I had to expose my head to sunlight and then sip out of a guana bird's skull at the stroke of midnight; that must have been the one made in Salem, Mass. At least it came with some cool Ginsu knives. Ah, globalization.

All of these products had photographs on the boxes of crowds of voluptuous women in bikinis surrounding a James Bond-ish man; the caption read after. The next week I ventured to the shopping mall, taking along a stick which I would surely need to fend off the hordes of amorous females. The girl at the checkout asked me, "did you know about our seniors' discount, sir?" I was feeling a lot more like the before picture.

Back to square one. The next solution to my problem was, ah! of course—a toupee. A nice word to describe such a product, don't you think? It probably comes from the French, conjuring up romantic images of Henry James and the Countess of Argyll Soque, or something, sitting at a wartime Parisian Cafe in the twilight, with a glass of port, where the streets are clean and the waiters are actually willing to talk to you. A much nicer thought than 'Dr. Nyuck's FAKE HAIR! Fool your friends! Non-toxic. Made in Taiwan.'

But I resisted the impulse to take the 'fluorescent fuchsia' model on display. I bought the hairpiece that I thought rather dignified, which matched my natural hair in a discreet manner. I was confident that it would not be noticed, until I was in the bank line-up and a young girl behind me asked her mother, "Mommy, why is that man wearing grass on his head?"

It would seem I was running out of alternatives. What was I to cover my head with, feathers and war-paint? I suppose I could wear a hat or cap all the time, but I didn't want everyone calling me Friar Tuck everytime I took it off. But there was one more option; I could have a hair transplant done (and please don't ask, 'what if you can't find a donor?') Even if I had to pay for it myself, it couldn't be that expensive, could it?

"All right then," said the specialist, putting down a mediterranean cruise brochure, "what we do is take hair that is still growing on the back of your head and put it up front."

"But then I won't have any hair where you took it from."

"Oh, you'll still have hair all over; it'll just be thinner."

"What good is that? I'll look like a Play-dough barber shop set everytime I get a haircut! What if I grew a beard and you used that hair?"

"It's going to take quite a lot of beard. Or are you planning to join ZZ Top?"

"Will it work? That's all I want to know."

"No, that's not the same type of hair; it won't do."

"Alright, so what does this sort of procedure cost, anyway?"

"Well, let me put it in medical terms. You know when you're in the rough and you have to break to the right over a sandtrap just to make par? Now, if you used a nine iron and followed through on the downstroke..."

Well, I suppose that a medical transplant wasn't meant for me. I suppose I'll just have to live with being called 'cue-ball' by my friends. And it's not all bad, either; I only need to buy shampoo once a year. But, resourceful fellow that I am, I'm going to deal with my handicap by taking a rational, mature approach to the problem. I'm learning to sing. If it worked for Phil it will work for me. I can already stay on pitch for most of "Sussudio."