The above is a line from a song in a Broadway musical of the late 60s or early 70s called Hair. If you are old enough to remember it, you might be old enough to think it was part of the beginning of the end, as Tallyrand put it, the end of the world, the beginning of total corruption and chaos. If you are just a bit younger than my dad (:)), you might recognize it as the same song with somewhat different emotions.
You might, in that latter case, think of it as a song of defiance and non-conformity and living on the edge and all of that crap that young people always believe about that which separates them from their parents, only very little of which is ever true. (I know I did!)
What IS true is that those of us of that latter group really did make a statement with our hair. It is true that those who went before us (including my dad) had ducktails and listened to Elvis and Hank Williams Sr. and were feared as young rebels a la James Dean even before there was a James Dean (I get my history from my dad :)), but I really doubt that ever before us has there been a time when hair was such a, well, ‘Freak Flag”, as Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young described it so eloquently.
I am not a fashion mogul, so I do not know what the hairdos were called back in the day, but I know that women, young women, stopped wearing their hair in beehives and pageboys and whatever and started just, well, wearing it (pre-Farrah :)). As for us guys, some of us grew our freak flags.
We let it grow.
I had hair at one time that reached past my nipples. A foot long or more. The cops would beat you up for that alone. And did! Hair was important, but we tried to act like it wasn’t. I am not trying to brag here. You all do more with your hair today, and your lips and tongues and noses and navels and genitals, than almost all of us would ever have DREAMED of doing, and had we dreamed of it and spoken aloud of it to our friends, we would have lost them as well as our freedom. I grant you that and salute you for it. 🙂
But we did have hair and I like to think we started the trend that allows you to look like morons today if that is what you want to do. Pre-mullet, I’m talking :).
And I have always had hair. When I was a kid, I had curly hair. My mom loved it for some reason and was really bummed out when my dad was away at sea and she cut it herself and sent me to school and they sent me home for a second try, this time by a professional :). Talk about being embarrassed. Scarred me forever. That’s probably how I eventually got cancer, now that I think about it :).
Chunks. Splotches. She didn’t know what she was doing, although she meant well. So at least I’m used to it.
Now, I am losing my hair.
I mean, yeah, I was sort of losing it slowly even before this chemo treatment, due to, um, well, um, old age! But it was a slow thing, something I could do gracefully, you know, like Harrison Ford :).
Now, it is coming out. This time I am doing the carbo and taxol and I am told the taxol will take it right out. If I have not said this before, OncoMan told me there was a 50% chance that I would lose my hair and I said, you mean now the other 50% is gone too?
So I was ready for it, right up until it happened. Started to happen.
I spent some time in the CSN chatroom when there was one, and there, and other places, I would try to placate women who were concerned about losing their hair by telling them that bald-headed women can be quite sexy. Not that they paid any attention to me, but it’s true. I won’t even go past Sigourney Weaver. I rest my case.
And I always suspected that some of it was vanity. At LEAST some of it.
The thing is, I have some background here. My mom, second go-round for her, with the ovarian, lost her hair and so my dad shaved his head in support. Let me tell you what is obvious: you have to love my dad for doing that. Let me tell you what is less obvious: my mom looked rather fine with a bald head, while my dad looked like a goofball. I never mentioned that to them, of course.
But it was true. My mom looked fine. She looked like an alien come to save us from ourselves the first time I saw her that way, I’ll admit, but it was really easy to adjust to her with that look, and she actually remained an attractive woman without the hair.
My dad, on the other hand, looked like a goofball, and I love him for the gesture, but he looked like a goofball and looked like a goofball for as long as he was a bald guy. Some heads are not meant for baldness. His was one.
Again, I love him for it, and I am not trying to critique here. I am saying that I am losing my hair.
I wondered about it, frankly. When other people talked about it, I imagined that they just pulled huge clumps of hair out of their heads, and maybe they do, I don’t know. I imagined there came a time when, like the teacher of my youth after my mom’s failed haircut, someone said, hey, time to trim that down to stub, my friend!
And the truth is that I had chemo and rads back in late 2005 (cisplatin) and nothing happened to my hair. Why DO I feel immune?
This time, I was told that carbo and taxol gave me a 50% chance of losing my hair. I joked, I said, you mean the other 50%? OncoMan smiled, hesitated, and when he got it, said, Yeah.
Okay. Joke is over. The 50% is here.
I am losing my hair.
It started when I began this danged chemo of course, but the realization happened when a couple of nights ago I ran my fingers through my hair (if my wife loved me enough to do that, I would never have known, but more on that later) and out came strands of hair. Not clumps or clods. Just strands.
Maybe 30 or 40 black and sometimes grey ones. And each time I did this, more came out.
It got to the point that I was fascinated by it while my wife and son were screaming at me to QUIT DOING THAT!!!
Of course, I kept doing it.
I am not yet bald, by the way. It appears, in fact, that I have lots of hair, if you are me and just looking at me in the bathroom mirror (I don’t recommend it, I’m just saying). Even after a shower and a brisk combing with a very unforgiving brush, it seems that I still have quite a bit of hair up there. I am not bald.
My daughter, who lives in another place and is pregnant with my first grandchild, asked if I was losing hair everywhere and I said, and I quote, “I don’t know. I haven’t scratched my b*lls lately.” Fortunately, she has her dad’s sense of humor. She laughed. I love to hear my daughter laugh :).
And I don’t know. I’m afraid to check. Thing is, I still have quite a bit of hair on my head, so let’s deal with that, you know? For the time being.
Back to my wife: now, she doesn’t run her fingers through my hair; she pats me on the head instead, like I’m being a good dog. 🙂 She is afraid if she touches my head, hair will fall out, even though she doesn’t say that. I think she is more worried about me going bald than I am. She was the one who suggested it was fine for me to grow a pony tail (see the above re my early days and long hair) because she knew that it was falling out anyway. Now that it is happening, I think she is wishing for the pony tail instead.
I will be bald soon. I am wondering how you do that, and beginning to understand for once how it is not just vanity for women.
Here is the deal, at least for me: I have had cancer pop up twice in two different places and had some serious work done, and even so, it was never so real that I could not laugh about it and even ignore it to some extent. But losing all of your hair tells the rest of the world and even YOU that you have had cancer. Does that make sense? It is not about vanity. It is about reality slapping you in the face.
Really weird, I know. I don’t speak well because of the tongue thing. I mean, we are talking about someone who spoke VERY well, and who could sing with the best of them, and now I can do neither ‘with the best of them’. I have issues with eating. Now, I have problems with breathing on occasion and one of the few musically-related things I thought I could still do well before this last episode, playing the harmonica, is now also a nebulous proposition, at least for now.
STILL, only losing my hair makes me really, truly realize, hey, I have friggin’ cancer! In a grand sense. Weird, I know.
I think it is the human condition to some degree. Maybe it IS still vanity in some form. Just not in the way I used the word (because it’s me? :))
I’m crying, and I haven’t even really lost my hair yet!!!
And I’m a dude, dudes!
Here’s the thing: it is hard to imagine a bald-headed woman being ugly, with one exception, and I think we know who THAT is, but that is a personality issue for Britney, don’t you think? Women seem to retain their beauty without hair. I should advise that I have hardly ever met an ugly woman, while I have met many ugly men. But you catch my drift, right? A lack of hair does not seem to adversely affect women. In fact, it sometimes, maybe often, seems to add some appeal.
A bald woman, well, she seems to have some sort of independence and spark and defiance. You know?
Okay, I’m not suggesting that I have a bald woman fetish. I’m just saying.
Men, on the other hand, they have to be of a certain type. It worked for Yul. It worked for Telly. It worked for Michael.
But I have never met a woman who was bald that I thought looked like a pinhead, and I have seen a lot of men who looked like pinheads with no hair.
No hair on purpose, I mean.
I am going to be a pinhead.
I don’t have the heft and the big head. I am going to be a pinhead.
That is fine, of course, but no more imagining that women dig me.
I will have to face the facts: I am a pinhead. It is coming soon to a theater near you. And near me. Too near to me: I am a pinhead.
A lot of my friends can get away with being bald, and choose not to (:)). I can’t get away with it. People will notice :).
And they will know it wasn’t on purpose when their first thoughts are “He looks like a pinhead! Why did he do THAT?”
I’ll be fine. But I’m not scratching down below. I don’t EVEN want to know. 🙂