Hair: In General, it Sucks.
I hate you, hair. Besides the obvious -- that for the past ten years, you have been steadily sliding off my head and down my back -- there are so many reasons to curse you, hair.
Even when I had hair, it wasn't exactly A-list hair. No smooth, straight mop for me. No, that one bypassed me and went straight from Sandra Bullock to her Jawa. Instead, I got the coarse, dense Brillo-esque cap that inspired me to explain recently to my Jawa the concept of the "jewfro."
"So, wait. It's like an afro, but it's for Jewish people? Will I have one?"
No. The Jawa does not have Jewish hair. But I did.
Even with hair, I had few options. I could go short, which I usually did. I could grow it, until it became larger and larger, eventually resembling that of Gregory Corso, according to one friend I had in college. Eventually, in Seattle in the 90s, surrounded by long, flowing hair, I tried, with the help of products purchased in the "ethnic" aisle at Walgreens, to have long hair.
Two incidents hastened the end of that era. First, one of Roger A. Hunt's lawyer friends, a guy I would eventually appreciate as a big, fat jolly guy, saw me entering a bar and nudged Hunt, saying, "Check out Kramer over there." Dude, I thought, I've known Hunt since we were 12, and that entire time we've built a rapport based somewhat on pointing our ridiculous things/people. You don't get to horn in and try not only to take my place on the roster but also use me as fodder. No.
Secondly, and more importantly, I happened to glance at a photo of myself, taken while visiting Noodles' Mom in Alaska. There is the nice, afro-sheened hair hanging down past my ears, and there on top is a very obvious, very pale-looking bald spot.
Away went the long hair, forever. Since then, my strategy has been to make it appear that, rather than getting my hair cut, I am instead slowly drawing it back into my body. By now, my weekly haircuts result in barely any skull cover. And so it shall remain.
It would be enough -- enough pain, enough tragedy -- if that were the sum of my reasons for hurling invectives at hair. There is more, of course.
In a world where even single, stylish and semi-famous actors like Jeremy Piven feel it is necessary to wax their chests, those of us chained to the middle class are left to deal with what once -- in the halcyon, Tom Sellick-drenched days of the 1970s and 80s -- was considered a blessing: abundant chest hair. Since Burt Reynolds last hung up his cowboy hat, this once-admired trait has become the punch line of a very dated joke. Remember the guy with the chest hair, his shirt unbuttoned to his navel, gold chains dangling from his neck? Yeah, thanks. Thanks alot.
I was 18 when I realized I should stop making fun of hairy guys. Hmm, I thought, that will probably be me eventually. The joy of realizing that I could strut my semi-hairy chest through the El Modena High School locker room while others walked around still trapped in the smoothness of pre-adolescence quickly faded when I realized that evolving social mores would demand that I minimize the impact of the follicles as I grew older. What was once a babe-magnet now became just another hassle, another reason to never walk around shirtless.
In some ways, I envy the completely self-unaware guys, like one particularly long-winded member of our school cohort, who can show up at a swimming birthday party, strip on down and dive in, revealing an abundance of body hair unknown outside the stomping grounds of Bigfoot. He didn't care. I would.
This is not even taking into account the random and weird hairs now sprouting up in places they should leave alone, nor the graying of not only what's left on my head but also what is on my chest. I tried pulling them, but found I would need a much greater understanding of mirror images and geometry to be truly effective.
A few years ago I read an Esquire profile of the writer Joseph Heller. Accompanying the article was a very close-up photo of Heller, highlighting the absolute chaos of his eyebrows. I vowed then, should I ever become prominent enough to warrent an Esquire profile, that I would demand some eyebrow shaping prior to the photo shoot. Call me a Nancy Boy if you want, you wouldn't be the first, but who needs to open up a 500,000+ circulation magazine and see that your eyebrows are going off in several directions?
And now, this: my one hair-related upper hand, gone. For years, while others struggled to put some facial hair in place, I walked around clean-shaven, secure in the knowledge that, should I desire, I could pound out a goatee in a matter of days. I bragged that I'd made it through the 90s in Seattle without growing one, but I knew that what made it bragging was the undeniable fact that I could grow one in the time it takes most people to take a shower.
Several weeks ago, I noticed that I have somehow worked up several spots on my face where hair will not grow. It's cruel, it's ironic, it's just wrong. Now that the hair on my head is mostly gone, I have lost even the option of facial hair. "It's stress," said this ancient, Norwegian dermatologist I visited. Stress? Stress from what? Trying to fit a trip to the dog park into my day? Too much working out? That makes about as much sense as a 41-year-old, semi-in shape guy clocking a 110 on his blood glucose level test.
So nothing. So now I can't go several days without shaving, which I love doing, because not only does it make me look tough, it also makes me look like one of those cartoons that is a face whether you turn it right side up or upside down.
Curse you, hair.