I noticed my hair was thinning when I was about 25 years old. Back in the crown area. My father is a bald man. His father was too. He seemed not to care about his lack of hair. Hell, he didn’t try to take pills or use drops or even wear a toupee. Being bald back then was a sign of wisdom, power, and an untroubled way of deportment. It was more acceptable. You owned it. I can’t help but compare myself to the old-timers. I wonder how my grandfather would have operated in this hairy society. But the more I think about it, the more I know it wouldn’t have bothered him. He wouldn’t have listened to anything this society had to say. Well, he did have major hearing issues but, you get my point.
I know a guy who has a full, thick head of hair but keeps it completely shaven down to his scalp. A full head of thick, “rockstar” hair and he’s using a razor on it every single day. Hard to believe. Nowadays, society seems to heavily favor a man with a full head of hair. Leading men, news anchors, reality stars, social media influencers, that one guy; an overwhelming majority of them have a full head of hair. Is it because the entertainment industry thinks it looks better or is this what society wants to see? Could you imagine if Superman suffered from male pattern baldness? As he places his fists on his hips, pride swelling his chest, turning his face to the sky with that perfectly chiseled jawline, Superman reveals a bald spot on the crown of his head. The people would gasp! NOBODY would cheer Superman for saving the world. NOBODY would go see that movie. But maybe Superman and Lex Luther would finally become friends.
[FUN FACT: Superman was originally conceived as a bald villain, but it wasn’t until the creators gave him a full head of hair that he turned into the hero he is today.]
That’s a fact I just don’t like. It’s not that I’m scared of it. But man, sometimes it can be just so harsh. Maybe it’s all in my head. Or on top of it. Sometimes, you just have to say, “OK. I’ll be a part of this world.” It can be a tough pill to swallow because this is no country for bald men.
The Long Goodbye
After I noticed a little thinning, I panicked. Every bald joke I’d heard on television, film, and radio covered the inside of my head. And my dating life? What would balding do to my dating life?! Can I get away with wearing a hat on every date? A beanie? If she sits facing the restaurant restrooms, does that mean I have to moonwalk to the bathroom, always facing her, not to reveal the back of my head? Or do I try to pull off the whole, “As I walk away to the bathroom, I’m going to continue to talk to you, so I have an excuse to keep my head turned toward you, and maintain dialogue as I walk to said bathroom? It’s an advanced move that demands flawless execution, no matter how far the restroom is located from where she’s sitting. It’s a move not to be attempted by amateurs.
Over the years, as human beings do, I sought out evidence proving my thinning hair was the end of my world. The thinner my hair got, the thicker the evidence packet grew. The prosecutor would have an extremely easy day convincing a jury, in a hair court of law, that I was well on my way to being a bald loser. They’d deliberate, deliver a “guilty” verdict, and be out by lunch. Even so, I’d definitely pay off the sketch artist to give me a huge head of hair.
My hair has continued to thin on the back of my head, but my hairline has held. “Hold the line! Steady!” What makes it so tough is that it’s a gradual loss and there is nothing you can do. It’s kind of like saying goodbye to your best friend, sitting with them on their death bed, reminiscing about a life once lived. “Oh, look at this picture… This was when you were a bowl cut. Remember?” I say as I swipe through the pictures, tilting my phone so my dying bestie can see. “And here is when I dyed you blonde during my wakeboarder phase. Haha, we looked so ridiculous! (SWIPE) Oh, and here is when I completely shaved you. (CRYING) I know, I’m so sorry. I took you for granted and I regret that every single day of our life, old friend.” (SOFTLY PATS HEAD)
Look, I know I’m being dramatic. And I do realize there are bald people on television and in movies. I’d say approximately 1 percent of the men you see on television and in film are bald and look great and that 1 percent goes by the name, “Bruce Willis.”
Is It Really Genetic? Really?!
This reaction to my thinning hair should give you a little insight into how difficult this can be for a guy to go through. It’s not fun. And whoever came up with that theory “You inherit your hair from your mother’s side of the family” is a moron. On my mom’s side of the family, every guy has billowing manes of hair. My dad’s side, all glistening bald heads. My mom’s side of the family has hair like the Bee Gees in their heyday. My dad’s side of the family has hair like the Bee Gees in their retirement day. Tragedy. I know it’s about loving people inside out, but sometimes it’s difficult to be who you are. Now that’s, Stayin’ Alive.
The fact that my mom’s side of the family has a voluptuous bevy of hair made family reunions a little awkward. The last family reunion was outdoors and next to a lake. It was like a big hair commercial. The guys on my mom’s side of the family were riding on jet skis, cruising up in convertible sports cars; their huge hair billowing in the wind. The guys on my dad’s side of the family were pulling up in minivans, where the temperature had to be set at 73 degrees or below, so their “hair in a can” wouldn’t drip off their heads. It was a bald nightmare. When I plan the family reunion, it’s going to be on a windless lot of land. There won’t be a lake within five hundred miles. Everybody must arrive in minivans and it’s going to be in an active construction zone, so everybody has to wear a hard hat. Finally, we will all be treated as equals.
So, now what? My hair continues to thin, but it’s not that bad, so far. I guess you just have to own it; retire the thought of having hair. I do actually have the occasional dream about it. I’m never younger or older. It’s always me in the present and I always have a lot of hair. A full head, actually. And none of this anxiety is with me. I’m just going through life, going through whatever situation the dream throws at me. I’m aware I have a full head of hair and that my hair is thinning in reality, but then the thought drifts away. In my dreams, I’m just enjoying my hair. I’m riding down the pass through the mountains, through life, ready for whatever comes my way.
And then I wake up.