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The Bald Truth


A very brief piece on the tragedy of going bald

The Bald Truth

It’s not easy going bald. That tiny patch on the back of the head, like a desert island in the midst of shampooed waves, just appears invidiously one morning when you have no suspicion of its arrival. Indeed, you have no reason to suspect. You are a virile man in your youthful prime, well, thirties, ok perhaps forties, and there is no reason for that trim, tight torso to be topped off by disappearing follicles. It is, however, pure entertainment for those watching it happen on other people mainly because they know you don’t know. There’s no justice.


One of nature's nastiest tricks isn't baldness per se, it’s the cruelty in starting the process on the one point of the body that is impossible to see by the man who owns it. Do I wish to inspect the balls of my feet? No problem! I can take a seat and point my legs at a mirror. How about the backs of my thighs? A small pirouet, keep it there for a few seconds and I can inspect all the spots and moles that I want. Even the hairs down my back can be examined by standing away from the mirror and straining my neck.


But the birth of my baldness is designed to be an eternal mystery to me. It is organisationally and diametrically opposed to my eyeballs. No matter how I turn, or how quickly, the image of the top rear of my head never appears before me. There are those who protest that all I need do is use two mirrors, that it’s easy to assess the damage by standing in front of one and holding another above my head like a halo. But that completely misses the point. I would only do that if I knew there was damage to assess. I can’t see it so the thought never crosses my mind. It’s the ignorance of its birth that’s the cruelty. It’s difficult to remain ignorant, though, when the single word ‘hair’ subtly changes to the plural. It means they can now be counted.


For some men the road to baldness never occurs. A few exhibit an infinite capacity for self delusion. As the square inch at the back widens and advances forward they gradually and unthinkingly adapt until, in extremis, their parting is below their left ear and the thin lines across the top look little more than black gloss paint. Others find an oasis somewhere at the back where hair is willing to grow in abundance surrounded by a desert of shining skin. This spot is nurtured like the prize winner at the Chelsea Flower Show then wrapped in circles around the skull. The unfortunate owner learns to walk like a head waiter in case the whole delicate construction slips on the oiled sheen below.


So what’s the answer? I could buy a wig. This has the advantage of allowing me to prove it’s all my own hair by showing the receipt. A transplant from another part of my body might work as a sort of ‘grow your own’ wig though I imagine a curly crop like that would look more natural where it came from.


Doing nothing is not an answer. It just leaves me with a decision each morning about what to do with the wild strands managing to survive on top of my skull. The permanent solution is to be a woman. All they have to contend with is having babies, compared to going bald, a mere bagatelle. 

Michael R Chapman
~ master of none ~
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