My father has thick, pure-white hair. His beard, when he grows it, is similarly pure white. If he has his beard after Thanksgiving, he gets all the usual ribbing about being Santa Claus and the occasional “Look, Mommy! Look” at the mall.
For a long time, it looked like I was going to end up the same way. I had grey/white hairs before I reached twenty. By the time I hit my mid-thirties my hair was more white than brown. On one occasion, a couple of years ago, I was out with my daughters (then five and three) and an elderly gentleman thought I was their grandfather.
But I took it all with (mostly) good humor. I looked forward to the day when, like my father, I was retired and could just let my hair grow long and to hell with what anyone else thought.
Then, recently, I was combing my hair and it just didn’t want to sit right. I’m not one to spend a lot of time in front of a mirror, but I kept trying to look at my head from several angles. Finally, I called my wife over.
“Does it look to you like I’m getting a little thin in the front?”
“Not just in the front. You’ve been getting thin on top for a while now.”
I didn’t say anything. After a few minutes, she reached out to my chin and gently closed my mouth.
“But, but…” I didn’t know what to say.
I can distinctly remember more than one conversation, where someone was ribbing me about my white hair. “At least I’m not bald,” I’d say. “That’s true,” they’d say. “I like it,” my wife would chime in.
And, almost invariably, I would chime in with “But even if I was bald, I’d just go with it. No drugs, no plugs, no spray-on hair. I’m not that vain.”
I meant it, too. At least, at the time.
Now, faced with the actual prospect of losing my hair, I find my will wavering.
“Will you still be attracted to me when my hair is gone?” I ask my wife. My self-confidence is hiding under the sofa with the cat.
“Of course,” she replies. I want to believe her.
Supposedly, the genetic predisposition to androgenetic alopecia comes from the Mother’s side of the family. I don’t remember my maternal grandfather; he died when I was very young. My brothers, however, show no sign of thinning that I could see. Greying, yes, absolutely.
What to do, what to do…