Gone baby, gone.
What else was I going to lead with? Hair today, gone tomorrow.
The simple inescapable fact is I have finally relented in the face of the massive forces conspiring to rid me of any ounce of cabbage comfort that my poor cabeza struggled for so long to hold onto. On Sunday September 16th, I executed my own personal Order 66 and rid my universe of every last follicle. As my children Colin and Aria looked on in horror and Drowning Pool blasted from the surround speakers, the long luxurious locks that I lovingly called ‘Sampson’ fell to the floor. When all was said and done, when Kurtz emerged from the mist, Colin uttered one fearful plea:
“You’re not going to do that to me now, are you?”
Of course not, I consoled him. If he follows my time table, he’s looking at a full 3 decades before he goes under the knife. Actually, if he follows my lead he may gain an additional baker’s dozen before he has to go all Scissorhands on the dome. After all, my Dad was roughly 22 when his hair headed south on permanent vacation. I was 35. Colin may see 48.
Of course, not one of us holds a candle to my Grandpa Ron – the grand patriarch on my Mother’s side who has kept a full head of hair well into his Eighties – thereby dashing that old wive’s tale that posits baldness comes from the Mother’s side. Last check, my Mom’s not bald. Neither is her brother. Or her father. Hell, resting atop the Clarke Family Crest is a Bald Eagle sporting a Faux-Hawk.
In a prior comment, my cousin Jason provided some supporting evidence to discount that oft-told tale that if you lost your hair you only had your Mom to blame. I agree completely, there are so many ingredients in the genetic stew that it’s impossible to say that all this Kojak confusion came directly from a Dad’s dreaded in-laws. I wouldn’t doubt it if some dude invented that story simply to deflect the blame off himself. This is just one more injustice heaped upon the women folk, sharing equal space alongside the denial of suffrage and the launch of the Oxygen network.
Still, if I have to go with superstition, than it’s certainly Instant Karma that got
me into this mess. I spent the lion’s share of my early twenties mocking my college buddies who were saying adieu to their coiffure just a wee bit early. With that snake having circled back around to nosh its tail and shear my mane, I now spend my days drafting lists of anyone else I may have wronged. It’s only a matter of time before I grow tusks.
That said, I certainly have been cognizant that my hair was beating a swift retreat to parts unknown. Of course, the majority of my loss was confined to the south side of my head – the blind spot that I never see – so outside of photographs, I was typically none the wiser to the deforestation going on, on my own body. Screw the rain forest, I got much bigger problems here. Yet, on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t pay much mind to the issue unless I happened to wander into a SuperCuts for the monthly buzz and grew suspicious when the hair dresser would keep the mirror angled in such a manner that all I would spy is roughly the bottom 25% of my noggin. Did she think I’d blame her for the crop circle above? Hell, just call it a landing site and send me on my way. The aliens did it.
The point is, it’s easy to just go about your day paying no mind to the advance of inevitability. So why did I do it?
Call it my own personal Perfect Storm.
On Saturday September 8, 2007, I happened to walk past the home office and saw Colin viewing a slideshow of our recent trip to New Hampshire. I stopped for a spell and watched the memories flash forward when suddenly one shot blasted my eyes wide open. Andi had captured Colin and I at the tail end of the Story Land Polar Coaster. The photo was a profile shot and two things jumped out at me. Colin’s beaming smile and my blinding bald spot. The hot spot had grown to epidemic proportions. The mind raced. With that hairstyle, why hadn’t I been drafted into an Order? Opus Dei should be banging down the door.
Later that day, we attended a 30th Birthday Party hosted by one of Andi’s friends from the Mom’s Club. (For those not in the know – Mom’s Club is simply a euphemism for Drinking Buddies. My future Da Vinci cronies will be happy to know that I’ve broken the Mom’s Club Code. Book Club Meeting is shorthand for Appletinis and Appeteasers. All Day Scrapbooking equals Raging Kegger.)
Anyway, her friend decided to use her husband’s birthday as a good event to get the husbands together for a little meet and greet. (She’ll rue that day. It wasn’t 10 minutes before me and my fellow Dad’s had officially assembled a Dad’s Club. Meetings are Monday Nights at 8:30 p.m. Oh, and we do Needlepoint from roughly 12:45 to 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.) As you can tell, the Dads all hit it off well.
Now, being a guy, certain details which may be obvious to the fairer sex go largely unnoticed by me. At one point, as I was talking to a group of 5 guys (ages 30 – 37), Andi stopped by and remarked that each guy – to a man – was either bald or had their head shaved close to the bone. Me? I was wearing a hat. Andi took the opportunity to remove my cap and offered up the old Sesame Street maxim:
“One of these things is not like the other.”
Blood to the wolves. They eye-balled my Eight Ball and immediately seized me, chanting “One of Us! One of Us!” An order was issued – “Woman! Get me my clippers. And a beer! And make me a cherry pie!!!” We waited hours – neither the buzzing of shears, the crack of a pop-top or the sizzling of a fresh-baked tart would snap the sounds of silence. When the crickets struck up the band, he knew he was on his own. There would be no cold Corona, no tasty treat and more importantly, no Eddie erasure that evening. I had escaped with my dignity.
But the kernel was planted.
All last week, I thought about it. And every time I did, I came up with more pros than cons. In fact the only thing that really kept me from shearing the sheep was pure fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the shape of my head.
See, once upon a time at a former place of employment, one of my female coworkers gifted me with the nickname Bullet. Now it’s not because I was ‘Quick on the Draw’ or ‘Number One with a Bullet’. Nope, according to this chick, my head was shaped like a bullet. In fact, she told me that if I ever decided to shave my head, it would be a dead ringer for Homer Simpson’s noggin.
With that thought in mind, with time unfortunately forcing my follicles to vacate the premises, I would stare at the man in the mirror and think one thought.
How could this body, one that I have been so protective of and gifted it a life long stream of Gator-Ade and Ho Hos – how could the body I had been so good to for so long, suddenly enact a vicious plan of revenge – taking from me what I prize most. My hair. And with it go the dreams of the frosted-tip boy band do or the Seventies Shag Carpet that is all the rage these days. Now I’m just a regular Vin Diesel. And Diesel went out of fashion years ago. It’s not good for the environment.
Despite my misgivings, I knew that what I faced was the sound of inevitability. At one point, moments before giving Andi the order to unleash Hell, I had her hold a full length mirror over my head while I used another mirror to spy on Bald Mountain. I was shocked to find that the gulf separating the bald spot from the area where my hair was receding was merely an inch or so. It was hopeless. The battle would soon be lost. I looked at Andi and gave her the nod.
Finish the fight.
And that’s it. Within minutes we were done. After taking several long looks in the mirror, I started to grow comfortable with the decision. Now, a few days later, I’m even starting to like it. I’m certainly no longer taking double takes each time I catch my visage on some reflective surface.
No regrets at all.
Well, maybe one.
I wish we hadn’t converted our kitchen into The Cutting Edge. I’m going to be eating my own hair for weeks.