Even at a very early age, I was resigned to the fact that, someday, in the far distant future, I would no longer have a full head of hair. After all, my maternal grandfather was bald, and so the genetic hair-loss link between him and me, I was led to believe, would lead to my own hair loss someday. I also decided, early on, that I would grow my hair as long as I possibly could when the time came around. I suffered through years of ’50s-style crew cuts, until eighth grade, when I was allowed to eschew the crew, and opt for a longer, albeit quite conservative, look.
By the summer before my junior year in high school, the hair got longer. It was a struggle at times. A friend of mine and I got thrown out of the local barber shop because of our looks. (We were soliciting patrons for a Key Club pamphlet!) And my mom issued a veiled threat that she would inform my dad of what my brothers and I were ingesting if I didn’t “get that hair cut!” She was an elementary school teacher at the time, and was getting drug seminars every Friday for a while. Have to admit, I got a hair cut after much consternation and pacing back in forth of that very same barber shop I just mentioned.
My freshmen year of college was spent in Tallahassee, Florida, which still had white and colored drinking fonts out in the open, if not in actual use, and where the upperclassmen informed me and a fellow Northeastern liberal that the locals didn’t cotton much to blacks – and long-hairs. We kind of pooh-poohed all that, until we were stranded one night in a broken-down, borrowed car while returning from a concert in Jacksonville, when the local gendarme took one look at us, and informed us that we were not in his “joorisdickshawn,” and wasn’t likely to be helping us right soon.
As we watched him leave us on the interstate, we knew it would be a long night. And it was. Upon reaching my senior year in college, now back in New Jersey, I had to listen to wise-cracks from folks – like when going to a Jets game at the big Shea, I heard guys say to my dad that it was nice that he was bringing his “daughter” to the game. Or ducking debris tossed at me as I bicycled my way through the Jersey Pinelands on my way to Ortley Beach. Pineys were much like folks in Tallahassee in those days. (They may still be today.)
Sometime later, subtly but surely, my forehead began to recede. But it wasn’t until my late 30s and early 40s, where it all really began to finally go away. Around the age of 50, I finally decided to shave the rest of what was left. I knew the decision was cool, when the 20-something girls I was working with at the time oohed and aahed when I first showed up to work with my newly-liberated dome. I am fortunate to be in an era where shaved heads are quite accepted, although I would not shave my head if I had a full head of hair. I would totally still prefer having all my hair, even though I am quite secure with my head as it is now. Incidentally, I still have a full head of luxurious hair in nearly all my dreams.
This leads me to the loss of hair elsewhere on my body. I have, since puberty, had a good amount of body hair. Mostly arms, legs, and chest. (None to speak of on my back.) Somewhere in my 40s, I started to lose hair on the outside of my shins; calves. No one could explain why this was happening. Nearly everyone, including my primary care doc, theorized it was from wearing jeans, and the seams wore the hair away. Why then, only on the outer calves? No one knew. Then it started disappearing on my thighs. Again no one knew. It wasn’t fair, and I couldn’t blame by grandfather for this one. I will say, I did find a perfect spot on my left calf for a really cool tattoo. Pretty soon my legs will be as hairless as my head. And I just don’t know why. At least no one is making comments about my legs.
But wait, I think I do know where ALL the hair has gone – it’s coming out of my ears and my nose. Sheesh!