The View From Beneath The Dome

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It occurred to me the other day -- the older you get the more often odd things come popping into your head -- that it's a good thing that the term for a wise old man is "graybeard."

Suppose the term were grayhead instead of graybeard. Where would that leave me? I fall into the category of "pinkhead," or perhaps "slickhead," or if you prefer "chrome dome."

What would someone do in the unlikely instance that he wanted to refer to me as a grayhead? Buy me a wig?

Don't laugh. Semantics are important. Call a woman in her 50s old instead of mature and it'll take you just two seconds to find out why semantics are important -- and you may keep on finding out why for a couple of weeks.

But back to hair. Hair seems to be a powerful obsession with the new generation. Think, for example, of how many TV ads you see in the course of a day in which hair is a major part. They may not even be selling a hair product, but an incredible number of ads have a scrawny, underfed female (I think it's a female) whipping two yards of hair around as though she's trying to beat the lice out of it. Sometimes I don't even know what they're selling because I mute commercials and can't hear what they're saying.

I saw a program recently where devout men and women out in India entered a sacred temple and had their hair shaved off as a "gift to the god of the temple."

Gift to the god of the temple? Ho! Ho! Ho!

You guessed it. The priests sell the stuff to us and make a tidy profit of 20 million American dollars each year doing it. It gets used in "hair extensions" for women.

I have to wonder about all those hair extensions, and wigs, and other things that women put on their heads. I'll tell you truthfully, a nice clean, sweet smelling head of hair on a woman is a definite plus, but if some female started whipping two yards of hair around in my vicinity I'd be out of there in a flash.

Of course men are no better. If anything, the male hair section in the stores is larger than the female section. All those razors. What for? Nobody shaves anymore. Beards are everywhere. Five o'clock shadow is a fashion statement.

I do like the ad for the hair restoring stuff though. Nice motto: "Use it or lose it."

Had it been available, I doubt that I would have used the stuff when I started losing my hair. The only thing I have ever put in my hair is a comb. All those gels and oils? Even the "greasy kid stuff?" Not for me. Too much trouble.

Shoot, the stuff grows wild all over my body, even in some places I'd rather not mention, so why cultivate it on my head?

It's too late now, of course. If I tried growing anything up there now I'd have to pile on gel until I looked like a conehead.

Losing your hair is an interesting experience. It's probably one of the slowest processes in nature. I started losing mine when I was 21, while I was stationed up in Iceland.

The guys kept telling me, "Hey, Garrett, you're going bald."

I'd go look in the mirror. Everything looked fine to me. No rearview mirrors in the barracks, you see.

Then, little by little, ever so slowly, it just went.

I suppose a benevolent God has arranged for things to be that way. Can you imagine the number of heart attacks there would be if men lifted their heads off their pillows one morning and their hair stayed behind?

I can remember only one time that I ever really took notice of the fact that the amount of available acreage up top was increasing. I was in the habit of dousing my hair down with a double handful of water each morning and then combing it into place. One morning I noticed that when I tossed that double handful of water up there I almost drowned.

That being the case, I cut down to a single handful, which did fine for quite a while. These days I just lightly dampen a hand, make a quick swish around the edges, and comb the hair (singular) into place.

So here comes the big question: If I could get all that hair back without using goop, would I do it?

Yes I would, but not for the reason you think. I can't go anywhere without a %$#@! hat. And when I get where I'm going I either have to keep the dumb thing on or worry about losing it. I hate wearing a hat indoors, but I do it because I'd hate it a lot worse if I ventured out into the sun without one.

I made that mistake once.

I spent an afternoon swimming in a beautiful blue lagoon along Terragi Beach on Guam. Being colorblind in addition to being bald, I asked a friend to tell me about it if my skin started to get red. After a while I felt that scratchy feeling you get when you are getting a really bad sunburn.

I turned and asked my buddy, "Hey, didn't I ask you to warn me if I started getting red?"

"Well," he said with a perfectly straight face, "you're not red. You're a little pink, but you're not red."

That night you could have lit a cigar on my head. It was that hot! And have you ever seen a head that actually charred?

When it started peeling, I had bright pink patches on a roast beef dome.

People shied away from me like I had the plague. Here's something that may interest you. You know the hair that never falls out? The stuff around the edges? It's controlled by male sex hormones.

The stuff that falls out is controlled by female sex hormones, which virile men no longer have in their bodies after their teens. That's why they start losing their hair in their 20s.

Really! I'm serious!

Gee, would I lie to you?

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