Thursday, December 6, 2012
I’m going bald. I’m 23 years old, and I’m going bald.
Being 23, I should still be in the prime of my life. I should have a luxurious mane of long blonde hair cascading down my back in waves. I should lift girls onto my white stallion and ride off into a glittering, Caribbean sunset as my golden locks flow behind me in a shimmering cape of youth and beauty and strength.*
Instead, I see a slowly but steadily receding hairline. When I see people like Neil Gaiman and John Green, I can’t help but feel a bit of a pang of jealousy.**
I first noticed the problem roughly a year ago when I noticed I could see my scalp through the front of my hair. I wondered if that had always been the case. I’ve always had thin, light hair, so it might just be that it didn’t hide my scalp as well as thick, strong, black hair might. I managed to hide the truth from myself for a while longer. It wasn’t until I had to dress like a 1950’s greaser one day (don’t ask) that the truth really hit home.
I tried to make the costume authentic. I wore a white t-shirt, jeans, boots, rolled up a pack of gum in my sleeve (since I don’t smoke), and donned my leather jacket.
You know what makes the greasers’ hairstyles work? THEY HAVE HAIR! Thick, glorious, luxurious hair to dip into the grease and comb backward. MY hair didn’t so much fluff and curl as fall back limply. That’s when the truth of the situation sunk in.
It’s funny that I didn’t notice this before. It’s not a thing that happens overnight. Someone doesn’t go to bed looking like Fabio and then wake up looking like George Castanza. There’s a transition. You could say it’s all transition. And yet, I was so shocked by this revelation that I tried to drop it into conversation with my family, all subtle-like.
“So,” I said to my brother one night after dinner, “I think my hair’s been looking a little thin lately. I might buy some of the hair thickening shampoo to try to get it back up to where it used to be.”
My brother, without a moment’s hesitation, blank faced and as non-shocked as someone being told that the sun rises in the mornings or that sugar is sweet, responded, “Oh yeah, it’s looking pretty rough. I’ve noticed that for a while.”
I’d always told myself that when the time came to go bald, I would accept it with quiet grace and dignity. I wouldn’t bitch and moan like those guys you see on TV. I wouldn’t go buy myself a yellow sports car and race the teenagers up and down main street. I’m aware that people get older and things change. Then again, I also thought that I’d be going bald in my 30’s or 40’s like most men. Not 23.
I’ve mostly accepted it. I mean, there are still days every now and then where I look at myself in the mirror, notice my hairline (this is particularly noticeable first thing in the morning), and think “Really, guys? C’mon, this is ri-goddamn-diculous.”
All that said, I’m fairly comfortable with who I am. There’s not much I can do to change it, save spending metric fuck-tons*** of money to undergo surgery where they implant my ass hair into my head. That doesn’t really sound like living the dream, so I think I just let my hair go with quiet grace and dignity.
And if my wife tells you any different, she’s a liar!
* I would obviously be giving these girls a ride in a strictly platonic way. I’m happily married people.
** I love those guys, and they have written some of the most important stories in my life. But I mean, seriously, c’mon. Fuck those guys and their glorious hair.
*** These would be metric fuck-tons, as opposed to imperial fuck-tons.
J. M. Dow