I finally did it. I took the plunge and cut all my hair off. Not just short, but off. I have no hair left, just the stubble to remind me of what once was.
There was a time that my hair was one of my defining characteristics. In high school John was a very popular name. You could find John somewhere in the top five list of baby names every single year from 1912 through 1972, so there were a lot of us. I was the John with the hair. Girls were quite pleased to stand behind this sitting John and run their fingers through my dark silky fine hair and take in the fragrance of my “Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific” shampoo. I would spend a great deal of time on my coif each morning. I would never ever go out in public with bed head. I started using product at a very young age. And I was one of the first, if not the first, to part my hair right down the middle, mostly as homage to the huge new movie star (note his first name) John Travolta. My new hairdo was soon followed by disco lessons just in time for prom.
I went through a blonde phase in my 30s, when I first noticed the telltale signs of hair loss. Why was I seeing hair in my brush and in the sink? Why was I feeling such a draft on the top of my head? Why did I not feel the usual thickness of hair as I washed my scalp? I can’t be losing my hair, could I? I quietly voiced my concern to my hair stylist during one of my cuts, and he suggested that I dye my hair blonde and keep it a bit shorter than I usually do. Since I have (or did have) dark hair, any hair loss is more obvious than if I was blonde. I liked it for a while. I think maybe blondes do have slightly more fun. But it’s no fun to keep up the dyeing. I think I was starting to get sick from all the fumes of the bleach. So I quit.
In my 40’s Alen and I, on a whim as we traveled pre-kids through Europe one summer, had our hair shaved off in a small Parisian salon. I think I was starting to face the frightening fact that someday I would be losing my hair for good. My dad and my younger brother are both bald, but their handsomeness overpowers their lack of hair. I needed to be reassured that I too would look fine with no hair. I absolutely was not. We both wore hats until it grew back.
Soon after that we both went on a regimen of Propecia and Rogaine, the two miracle grow drugs for hair. I had no confidence in these drugs, but Alen the doctor and Alen the ever-supportive partner swore that my hair was thickening. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that once I found out that Propecia reduced one’s sexual libido, I dumped my daily dose down the disposal. I never was one for medications.
As I crept closer and closer to 50 I noticed less and less hair, mostly in the typical male pattern baldness that separates the boys from the teachers. I would catch a glimpse of the back of my head in reflections and mirrors and some random group photo I was in where the picture was taken from behind me, and my stomach would drop to my knees. Is that really me? Alen and others have receding hairlines but somehow those look sexy and distinguished to me. There is nothing sexy about a bullseye on your head.
I tried baseball caps for a while, but they look out of place anywhere other than at the gym. In public areas I searched out a seat in the back of the auditorium, in the back of the bus, or with my back to the restaurant wall. And to add insult to injury, small pops of gray hair began to show up, although these have been few and far between.
I finally had it when my 5-year old son tells me that I have hair like his friend’s grandfather. Ouch, that hurts. I know everyone else is being really nice and keeping mum about my predicament. And so I rush into my favorite hairstylist’s place and, much like you’d tell your doctor to remove a mole, give him the green light to get rid of my hair.
Good-bye, hair. I know you’ll probably show up again in my ears or my nose or even my back, but this is the end of the road for you on my head. It didn’t end well, but we sure did have a good time while it lasted, didn’t we?
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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