Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bald: not Beautiful. Painful

To revisit a post from long ago, there is no apparent follow-up to 24 Hour Fitness shower conversations. Twice in the past week I've seen the nice Buddhist who once engaged me in non-stop showertime conversation. Twice in the past week he's walked right by with little more than a curious glance. One time I thought, "I know all about this guy. I know that he's from the city, but lives on the Peninsula, and that his kid is a handful." And yet, we pass now without even a nod of recognition.

Today he caught me finishing up in the shower. Where is the dignity? I should just be thankful that he did not try to start anything up, given that as he passed I was drying myself off, trying to reach my calves while contorted into a strange, pretzel-style shape, wearing only my Flojos-brand flip-flops and a look of extreme concentration. Am I imagining that his face bore a look of pity as he passed by the shower room door, fully clothed?

It only got worse from there. When I reached my locker -- carefully chosen earlier for its isolation and distance from the old Chinese guy who always arrives and showers at precisely the same time as me -- I got caught in the crossfire of a conversation between a young 24 Hour Fitness employee and an older (later revealed to be 45) radical. I say "radical" because, despite his admittedly advanced age, he sported all black spandex and a combo mohawk-ponytail hairdo. I will assume that, given his appearance and the fact that he was arriving at 24 Hour Fitness at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, that his resume looks similar to mine.

He was discussing relative age with the young employee, going on about how he's so old that it's difficult to work out, aches and pains, and that the young guy has it easy. I'm watching quietly across the room, sort of minding my own business, when the old guy swings around and looks me right in the eye. He was still speaking to the young guy, but he made sure I was listening and said, "He has no idea what it's like to be old."

What would you do in this situation? Do you smile ruefully in agreement? Do you pretend not to have heard? Is he talking to me? I decided to meet it head-on:

"Why are you looking at me?" The timing was good. The young guy cracked up. The old guy backpeddled.

More on why it sucks being bald. If you have hair, it's probably never occurred to you that having no hair means having no padding on your head. Similar to the shocking realization that having no hair also means you have nothing to filter out ultraviolet rays. This should happen only once, followed by a new interest in hats.

As a bald guy, or a bald gal, Sinead, other than wearing a hat (which my grandfather, long known for smashing his shiny dome against lamps and cabinets, has taken to doing whenever he is near either) here's nothing you can do to protect yourself from hazards. So there I was, a few days ago, in the bathroom. With the medicine cabinet door open, I dropped my contact lens case on the floor, bent down to pick it up and...WHAM!

On the positive side, it's always nice to be reminded that your involuntary scream is deep and mannish. And loud enough to scare the wits out of a Jawa.

Even if you're bald, you can't see the top of your head. When you smash it against the sharp edge of a medicine cabinet, you can only feel your head, pull your hand away and look for blood. And have the freaked out Jawa who has just rushed into the bathroom take a look at the wound.

"It's red," he said, solemnly.

It's been almost a week since this incident. I have not been able to cut what's left of my hair because I have a big old scab on my head. So now, instead of looking like a hip buzz cut guy who's totally cool with being bald, I just look like a regular old bald guy whose remaining hair is quickly turning gray. Which is probably why that guy at the gym reached out for me to join him in his brotherhood of old guys. Maybe I should use this opportunity to grow a beard, get some wire-rimmed glasses, camping shorts and Tevas and go for the "prototypical middle-aged Bay Area Jewish guy" look. I wonder if they have any "Kerry/Edwards" bumper stickers left?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least you'll never be mistaken for Frank Graham.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous flush puppy said...

So the jawa's real father is thinning on the top of his head, but he can't see it (though he asks about it constantly). is that like when a tree falls in the forest and there's no one around?

3:21 PM  

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