I started to lose my hair about six years ago. At this point, I am at least half way to being totally bald. Apparently it is a slow process. That is probably so you will have time to adjust. (My oldest son is six and a half. I don’t think that is a coincidence.)
I really miss my hair, but not why you might think. None of my reservations about going bald have anything to do with vanity. I will not miss my hair for one minute from a looks standpoint. I just never cared about it very much. If you took a look at my school pictures from K through 12, you would see that I never put much time into trying to have cool hair.
It appears that there was a brief period in the eighties when I actually tried to have a hair style, but unfortunately, like so many other things in the eighties, it was ill-advised. Apparently – and fortunately – it lasted less than a year, because it is captured for posterity in only one of my school pictures. Seventh grade will forever be known as the year of the part down the middle with super-cool feathered bangs. This was the same year that I had braces with headgear, so looking back on it, I was probably trying desperately to compensate for having a stainless steel wire sticking out of my mouth, attached by rubber bands to a “flesh colored” (read: pink) neck strap. That would also explain the rolled up cuffs on my jeans with the black-and-white checkered slip-on Vans with no socks. Trust me, at the time, that seemed to be the height of fashion. But like I said, it was the eighties. Bad choices all the way around.
I either got rid of the headgear, or just got tired of paying attention to my hair, because by the eighth grade photo I was back to short hair. I have kept it short ever since. Up until I went bald, I had never viewed my hair as an asset. I never really thought of it as a liability, either. I think I just never thought much about it at all. It has always been just a line-item on a to-do list. Morning: wash hair. Every two weeks: cut hair. In that regard, my hair is a lot like the front lawn. I don’t give either one much thought; I just water and cut them both on a regular schedule. Like the front lawn, I don’t mind cutting my hair, but past that, I want no other maintenance activities taking up even an extra minute of my time.
So, given that I put my hair in the same category as lawn maintenance, you may be asking yourself, why would he miss it? Seems like it would be a good thing not to have to deal with it anymore. I agree. I was actually pretty excited about the less-maintenance aspect of my hair loss. Until I went outside…
I’m not sure you can fully appreciate this unless you yourself have actually gone bald, but the hair on top of your head is an amazing source of insulation. When I go outside now in the slightest whisper of cold air, I am instantly freezing. If the sun is out and it’s over 65 degrees, I’m burning up. For the first time in my life, I am a wuss. I need a hat at all times.
I was blown away by what a difference having no hair makes on my body temperature. Apparently, it doesn’t take very much hair to keep you insulated, either, since my hair was never over a half-inch long. I guess as long as it’s evenly distributed, length really doesn’t count for too much.
This constant need for a hat has thrown me for a loop. It has introduced a whole new level of planning into my formerly simple life. I used to just go places. Time to go? Let’s see… I’m wearing clothes… OK, I’m ready! Now, when it’s time to go, I have to make decisions. Where are we going? What are we doing? Is it an indoor event? Is there even the remotest possibility that we will be outside, even for a few minutes? Not sure? Better bring a hat just in case.
Now I am forced to find a hat that will “go” with my clothes, or my wife won’t stand next to me. I am forced to choose from a selection of baseball-type caps, since I am not anywhere cool enough to be able to pull off the fedora or the Kangol driver’s cap look, and my cowboy hat always seems a bit much for a backyard barbeque. In hot weather, I always really want to wear one of my wide-brimmed, floppy, “boonie” hats, but they are all some sort of camouflage pattern, so I end up looking like I am there to invade the backyard, not just visit.
You would think the baseball cap would be good enough, but let me tell you, they are not without challenges to the bald man. The adjustable size varieties have the open semi-circle in the back. I found out the hard way that I still need to apply sunscreen to the back of my head to avoid a second-degree half-moon burn. Even if the cap is fitted and does not have the dangerous rear opening, it is still not 100% safe. I have had occasions when I have sat still in the sun for long enough – at a baseball game or an outdoor concert – that I have received six tiny little circular sunburns on the top of my head, through the pin-hole air vents on the top of the cap. Come on!
In the summer time, I just sunscreen my whole head on the weekends. It’s just safer that way.
It is a cruel trick played on the bald man. Whether he cared about his hair when he had it or not, as soon as it’s gone he is forced to accessorize. Coming from a guy who never accessorized anything, and always just had clothes instead of “outfits,” this has been a pretty big adjustment for me. My wife has started to look into online tests for colorblindness, just to make sure I’m not a total idiot. (I think she’s going to be sorely disappointed!)
Well, I’ve got to go. We’ve got a wedding to attend. Honey, which one of these ball caps goes with my suit?
I miss my hair.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen
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