July 23, 2024

Column: That Got Me to Thinkin’…? “Male Pattern Embarrassment”


Bruce Williams

“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Male Pattern Embarrassment” Chapter 106
By Bruce Williams

There are things worse than being bald—take wearing a toupee, for example.  My high school basketball coach wore a toupee.  It was one of those horrible, obvious ones that didn’t match his skull ring and moved in a different direction than the rest of his body like it was its own entity.  Rumor had it that rival coaches had placed a bounty on its untimely removal, should said coach happen to be jostled in the course of the game.

I once helped one of the Mariners’ announcers, and he too was surprisingly wearing a rug—also not a very good one (are there any good ones?). I was a little chagrined because of his status and it being this day and age and all but there it hung, daring me not to stare at it.  And I do stare—I’ve had to train myself not to just sit there and drink it in like a sap when I come across one of these man-wigs…or to not float out into the aisle when I espy the tell-tale, two-tone mismatch passing by my section at work.

My dad employed a comb-over.  When we’d shoot hoops in the driveway it would oftentimes open up like a drawbridge when he’d inhale and exhale gracefully as he launched his exceedingly accurate rainbow jumpers.  The worst of the comb-over crew show up greasy, strandy, thick-glassed, lurky and short-sleeve-dress-shirt-with-clip on-tie-y.  Middle-management’s birthed rejects.

Now they’ve got all kinds of cures for the follicly-impaired.  Rogaine, Propecia, “ForHims”—which offers cures for everything plaguing your manhood…from baldness to limpness to premature disappointment…even to the exotically intriguing Peyronie’s disease (bent dick) I think.  Apparently ForHims has been so effective that it’s spawned a female equivalent—ForHers—that deals mostly with the fallout from ForHims…depression, anxiety, stress, burnout.  Like most things, the feminine version is a little less in-your-face and a bit more nuanced.

Look, I get it—I am bald after all.  I started losing my hair in my late twenties after having a glorious mane in my youth.  I tried Rogaine briefly when it first came out.  At the time it was expensive and didn’t do anything more than keep it from getting worse.  I’d spray it twice a day on my widow’s peak and it would turn Aqua Net-crunchy in the morning or end up mostly on my pillow at night.  I gave up eventually and gracefully accepted my fate.

There are other options—plugs that come in clusters that look like doll hair—or transplants.  A co-worker told me the horror story of her ex’s grafting nightmare—the witch doctor removing a chunk of scalp from the rear of his head and sewing it onto the top—his entire head swelling up to the size of a beach ball.  All in the name of vanity.

Every once in a while the topic comes up in conversation and someone will slip and declare, “I hope I never go bald!” and then glance over with a look on their face like they just shat themselves when they see my glistening pate and unconvincingly self-correct, “But it looks good on some people!”  

I don’t think about it much anymore.  I buzz the sides every two weeks and that’s about it…no need for combs, brushes, hair dryers or conditioners.  I do often look at younger co-workers for signs of their impending doom—thinning on top, receding in the front—and offer up my unwanted analysis on their future.  I warned my former boss that he’d better hurry up and pop the question to his attractive girlfriend before he lost all of his hair and he grew a little red and speechless, but that’s the beauty of bold effrontery—when it’s true you tend to get away with it.

So as you stare at your reflection or angle that second mirror at the back of your head and stress out about it, catch yourself and realize there are much worse fates.  That Peyronie’s for instance.  You can see that poor guy coming around the corner.