It would be easy say that the picture above represents the mother of all bad hair days, but that would be a bit too simplistic. There is obviously a “statement” being made here, and I will leave it to you to figure out what that is exactly!
It is, I believe, safe to say that that as a species we are obsessed with hair – ours and everyone else’s. Skeptical? I was until I found the following on the web: “The Cult Obsession With Hair And Why It’s One Of Our Most Defining Features.” In it the author states: “Much like body fat composition or blemished skin, our hair is one of the first bodily traits we notice in the mirror. It has a real, tangible prominence in our lives. We associate our personalities with our look, let it impact our mood, and even form an emotional attachment to our strands. Experiencing a bad style is not unlike the entire island of Manhattan breaking out into anarchy and collapsing on itself.” Perhaps a tad overstated, but who am I to judge? I also discovered something called “hair dysmorphia,” a condition characterized by people obsessing about their hair for hours and sometimes an entire day, leading to compulsive and repetitive behavior to try and to hide or improve perceived flaws. Then there is the more serious “Trichotillomania,” a hair pulling condition. This got me thinking about my hair, at least when I still had some, and my dad.
Although this happened almost 60 years ago, I remember it like it happened yesterday. It was the day my dad came home wearing a toupee! I was 14 or 15 years-old and, to be honest, my initial reaction was somewhere between shock and disbelief. The jokes would come later! My dad was in sales and felt that his appearance was important to this vocation, not to mention his ability to earn a living, and who can really argue with that? But teenagers tend to see the world a little differently, especially when it comes to a parent. I don’t specifically remember when my dad started losing his hair, but it must have been in his late twenties, as he was in his early forties when the toupee first appeared. My own hair at the time was starting to get longer and shaggier as was the style in the mid 60s. My parents didn’t overtly object to my hair length; rather, the objection came in the form of a warning from my dad: “Keep your hair long like that and it’s eventually going to fall out,” he’d say in a serious tone. I was about to point out to him that he never had long hair in his life, but I thought better of that and kept my mouth shut. And even though I had a front row seat to this possible eventuality, teenage hubris kicked in and I said: “Yeah, right.” As you can see in the picture below taken when I was 20, I did not heed this advice.
Over the years, there were some humorous events with my dad and his toupee, but the most memorable has to be when as a family we were visiting friends who had just built this amazing house that had in indoor swimming pool! We were all lounging around the pool when my dad decided to go for a swim, and before we could say anything he dove right in, surfaced a few feet away and started swimming to the other end while his toupee floated merry along behind him. It was fortunate that it was an indoor pool, as the ensuing laughter from those around the pool would have caused a noise complaint from neighbors. Just for the record, my dad was laughing the loudest! From that day forward, I vowed that if I did start to lose my hair, a toupee would not be in my future.
Fast forward to the mid-90s. I am now 45 and my hair is starting to “thin.” This is the politically correct word for “you’re going bald.” I was keeping my hair shorter by then and particularly more so in the summer, as I was playing a lot of slow-pitch baseball. In December of 1995, I was invited to a formal New Year’s Eve Party and decided to rent a snazzy tuxedo for the event. My hair was still short from ball season and for some, still unexplainable reason I decided that shaving my head would give the tuxedo the needed umph to complete the look. In the back of my mind, I was thinking Albert Finney in Annie.
I told no one that I was going to do this and just showed up to the event with my new “look.” Let’s just say that the reaction was mixed! Now it was early 1996 and my hair is starting to grow back . . .well, it is more accurate to say that it was growing back in certain places and not in others. One morning I looked in the mirror and decided that’s it. I do not want to look like Krusty the Clown for the rest of my life, I’ve had a good run with my hair, it’s time to embrace my baldness!
Not long after this decision, my dad was visiting, and we arranged to meet for dinner. He did not know that I was now bald, and as far as I knew he was still sporting a toupee. I remember walking into the restaurant and saw that my dad had already been seated. As I walked towards the table, he turned around, looked at me, and said: “So, that’s what I look like!” My mom, on the other hand, was devastated by my new look. She said: “My god, all those gorgeous natural curls gone.” I told her that she would get used to it, which is when she told me to grow a beard so I would at least have some hair on my head. I was a little taken aback by this because she hated every beard I had ever sported over the years and there had been several.
I have been shaving my head since that decision years ago and have zero regrets. And just think about all the money I’ve saved on shampoo!
Los Angeles 2022