Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Hairlines on the sly: I am continually fascinated by balding men. Not in a kinky way, mind you, but in a sociological way. First off, balding is genetic. There's no fault involved as to who goes bald, and there's nothing we can really do to stop it, despite Rogaine's best advertising efforts. All things being equal, men would prefer not to go bald, but in the end, there's no shame in it and it's up to the man to go through the seven stages of coping. Some do it easier than others.

Now, I'm not balding yet, and if the wives' tale holds true, I won't be anytime soon (mother's father wasn't; my dad has his and almost no grey hair to boot - and I've found no evidence of coloring). But even if I were, the last fu*king thing I'm gonna do is get plugs. I see three men regularly (two on the train, one at work) who got them some time ago, at a point when they obviously thought they were as bald as they were going to get. Wrong. Now they're left with the fringe on the side and a ridiculous, artificial hairline in the front, with a regular pattern of plugs fading toward the top and back. I'm sure they got sold on them by some shyster "doctor" who assured them this would be the miracle cure. Now, thousands of dollars later, and with the passage of time, they're left off worse than if they never did a thing.

I'm also amazed by the combover. There has to be a point where you have to stop compensating for the lack of middle, by stretching the sides. Worse still, those who come up from the back and either comb it all forward, or swirl it around. Sometimes we're talking a handful of strands plastered straight across to give the briefest illusion of a hairline, of course only when viewed from straight on and at eye-level (which probably, not-coincidentally, equates to the man's view in the mirror each morning). Let's call this the "Guiliani" (although I see now he's given up the ghost).

I guess the question is: who do they think they are fooling? And also, can the person really feel that much better about himself by doing it? Here's the real proof. Compare men like Michael Jordan (and we'll leave aside, for the moment, whether black men can pull off the bald look more effectively), Patrick Stewart, and Yul Brynner, even. Then look at someone using the -over. Granted the aforementioned men are all good-looking, in-shape athletes or actors, but still. A dignified, graceful bald or semi-bald head that is well-maintained (shaving, polishing, etc.) has to win hands-down over a sick, twisted attempt to manipulate what you have left into a full cover. And let's not start on toupes.

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