Somewhere around 1988, my Mom took me to a Hair Cuts 4 Less in Shelburne, Vermont. She sat reading a Cosmo and I bellied up to the vanity to get my lid cropped. Brandy or Candy or Mandy who smelled like Hi-Vals and old “New Car Scent” asked me how I would like said lid cropped. So I says, or so says my Mom I said, “I want it back. Real back.” Brandy was confused. “Whatta you mean, Honey?” Reasonable question. “I want it…like my Dad. I want it…off my head.”
For those of you who don’t know – my Father is a bald man. Wildly bald. “Off my head…” I know, I know – the cutest of the super cute, right? Super duper cute. But, let’s just, for a second, say I did have a time machine. What I’d do is I’d dial up the date back to ’88, march into that shit salon and grab Daddy’s Little Dick Juggler by the neck, press a pair of shears to his tracheal artery and say “Look at me you sentimental little twat. LOOK AT ME!! If I had had my druthers, I would have brought back a rat scrotum skin cap from the future because that’s what those guys are working on in China – I don’t know the ins and outs, but it grows hair. Fact. I think. LOOK AT ME! I would scalp you right here, with these rusty shears and stitch that rat scrotum skin cap on on my own because, probably, in twenty-five years it will have healed pretty fine and who gives a fuck how it healed?!? It’ll be covered with lustrous brown locks sprouted from a guinea pig rat scrotum skin cap and you won’t see the fucking hack job I’m about to do had I brought the rat scrotum skin cap. Could it have gone terribly wrong? One hundred percent. But it’s Desperation:45, Linus, and we’re on follicular suicide watch. LOOK AT ME! Look in my eyes. Not in them, you delicate little Ninny, at them. Look at the whites – I mean the soggy yellows. Well, that’s because I drink a lot. That’s because I’m bummed. That’s because my hair’s falling out. I gotta get back. There’s a Woman in the future present who’s probably already gone. Yeah, you sensitive Nancy: because I’m gonna be a bald guy.”
Gonna be. I’ve got a year. Maybe three. Fuck. It’s so gut wrenchingly pathetic to go through a more than common bodily transformation and make it the bane of your existence. To let it consume you in all of your vain hypocrisy. We all have our shit- insecurities that slowly, quickly magnify as we age. But, in our defense (the Thinning Lizzies), it’s the worst thing that can happen to a person. I mean, next to…nope – actually, the worst. My sister went through a near fatal bout with Anorexia, and I have to say, that doesn’t hold a candle to what I’ve gone through.
There are stages. “Well, I’ve always had a big forehead,” and you’re suddenly digging up 3rd grade school pictures and shit. But it’s hair there on your idiot young self and not…here, on your idiot now self.
Then it’s “Smoking thins my hair in the winter” or “That’s just because – remember when I smashed my head Freshmen year on the corner of the desk, belly full of Popov and Tang? Totally should have gotten stitches. That’s that scar.” You hit the side of your head, though, Dummy. Not the high right corner of your lately terrified widow’s peak.
Soon you’re canvassing Whole Foods and Amazon for anything – yucca root hibiscus gels, pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto, Klondike bars, chicken shit, apples. Anything but the Juice. Never the Juice. Scrambles your Dick, gives you breast milk spurts when you’re around children and foot corns on your taint. Makes yourself hate yourself worse than before. Never the Juice. It’s unnatural. Need I say more?
“Well, I heard B. Coop’s on the juice…”
So, naturally, you start researching the Juice. Let’s just get to the bad part…
You’re not researching the juice because you’re actually gonna go on the Juice, but quite the opposite. Until, logically, you start to consider going on the Juice. But before that you’re so preoccupied with not going on the Juice – snorting green tea extract, apple cider vinegar enemas, going up the stairs backwards, jerking off and not jerking off simultaneously – you’re laughing at the Juice, trolling the internet for horror stories and screaming at Propecia or Finasteride proponents like a rabid Pro Life Evangelist or Kramer boycotting Kenny Rogers’ chicken.
“But, I heard Matty Mac’s on the juice. He didn’t look like he had milk spurts in ‘Mud’”.
And then everybody’s on the Juice…
Justin Theroux started juicing at just the right time, right? – perfect recede. Olyphant, JJ Reddick, that guy at the Houston airport, Conor Oberst. Krasinski? Please. Him and Emily Blunt trying to have sex is like trying to shove a raw oyster into a parking meter. But look at that hair!! Fuck sex. Fuck my Dick. Fuck Dicks. Nobody even likes Dicks anymore. I wonder how to get in touch with Theroux…
My eyes would go (do go, every time, but chronologically, it’s better for the piece) to a Man’s hairline like it’s a fucking baby oiled bosom. I wonder when he was at my stage…I wonder if he drinks Diet Coke a lot… his head’s small…I got the shit combo – huge fucking head from Mom’s side, social life crippling hair gene from the Old Man. I’m gonna look like fucking Peter Boyle in a year and a half.
All of the shit: the relentless comparisons, the number crunching, the tears of dread, the tears of shame for the tears of dread, the tears of shame for the tears of shame…the obsession. It’s Built to Spill…and then there you are. Sitting in your car, sweating dicks on Burton Way and Robertson – you’re not even worth music or a cracked window, you soulless sell-out mock-tragedy – and you’re staring at a bag of hair assisters that cost, well…”soulless sell-out” hurt enough. I don’t need to kick old younger me when he was down. Because he looked at the pill. And he took it. And when it hit his belly, he thought back to that day at Hair Cuts 4 Less and wondered what the hell happened. The Kid just wanted it off his head. You fobbed off all his other wants over the years. Why couldn’t you just let it get off his head? Just let the motherfucker have it off his head! Well, now that six-year-old boy is NEVER gonna give you a boner. Prick.
I would like to say I stuck my finger down my throat and wretched up my anti-pride. But the reality is that I took the pill for five days and my dick inverted and my face got weird and I started lactating, so I gave the rest to my actor friend. He has amazing hair. And then I’ve juiced my wig with Rogaine intermittently since, when I felt like I wasn’t successful enough to go bald. But all that got me was a rashie eye-lid and a shit-fire scalp. So now. Now we’re gonna see what’s supposed to happen. What the world’s got in store.
We’re getting older. A friend of mine recently tried reassuring me, insisting that everybody has their corporeal pressure point, the attribute that Father Time has hand picked to try and strangle their show. This friend is a near physically flawless member of Women. So I want to kick her goddamned teeth in for saying that. However, she made another point: “You’re not giving people enough credit.”
Probably not. And there in lies the rub. Fact is, I’m only in it for the empathy. And I think that rings true for the majority of us - that’s what this mortal shit-storm boils down to. However you go about it, at the end of the day, you want to have a sandwich or order a drink and find some connection. And that’s the fear of a Man who everyday sees more of his head: am I losing my connection? Is it harder to empathize with a bald guy?
It’s the sad, sorry truth that these questions plague us (I’m speaking for me and, like, a few other guys…or just mostly me). Yeah, I’m fucking vain. It sucks. I’m desperately awaiting just a flicker of acceptance that has yet to come. The moment when I make peace with it. It’s gotta be close, Man. I can almost see it. Almost. But for now I spend my time surveying my hairline’s defeated retreat to its depressed demise. It’s funny, too (read: “tragedy”) – when I was twenty-seven, I could feel thirty encroaching, unabated to the snap-count of my career schemes, so I made sure that I surrounded myself with friends who were over thirty. Now I only wanna be friends with Dudes who are bald(er than me). Dudes who know the struggle. Men who shake hands with glazed eyes averted and a limp grip of contempt on those who flaunt their suspicious hairlines and bountiful quaffs. Men whose only advice to the youth is “Don’t lose your hair, Kid” as they order another pint. You think Native Americans are angry? Get a barroom full of Thinners and Blank Pates and I’ll show you a people of scorn. We will have endless muted loops of “Curb” on the corner television, listen to BTS and REM (but strictly “Automatic for the People” and later), start a Jordan Spieth fan club and a “Fuck LeBron” Fuck Club. Get each other’s backs like we’re in the fucking first infantry, only speaking to Women when spoken to, growing beards and buying rounds, never to hark back on the Lost Days of Locks…And we will all huddle together, united, as one, scrambling like lemmings to the cliffs of our Vanity.
Oddly enough, my Dick’s never worked better. Go figure.