Tempest in a Teacup
Yes, it was cold and rainy this past weekend. Snow fell mostly in Switzerland (where is that weatherman who should apologize to the folks from Jerusalem?) and the radio dragged out of the archives all those songs about rain like Ruti Navon’s “Timely Rain”, Meir Banai’s “Rain” and of course the Eurythmics’ classic “Here Comes the Rain Again”. People stayed at home, ate cholent, played Taki with their kids and enjoyed the coerced quality family time. It was pleasant – but not for everyone.
For us bald folks, winter is the ultimate test. It’s the enemy that has us with our backs against the wall and is just waiting to see how we’ll react. Winter for bald folks is like what Vietnam was for the Americans. What Daphny Leaf was for the real estate market, what Moshe Katzav was for the Persian community here in Israel. After the appearance of the groundhog, wool caps on our heads are the next thing that ushers in autumn. The raindrops land on our heads like bird shit on a tin roof. Our heads are cold and, when accompanied by the dampness, our brains begin to contract and our thoughts become small and cold.
The hat option elicits a lukewarm approval, but then the quesiton becomes, “which hat”? A kitch baseball cap that looks asinine and stylistically out of place? A wool cap of one kind or another that itches the scalp and causes our ears to stick out? A sweatshirt hood gives you the cool look of a gangsta rapper from a bad neighborhood in Detroit, but in Tel Aviv, you’re likely to look like a pale version of Israeli rapper “Subliminal” without his sidekick “The Shadow”.
Friends, who had recently come by for coffee and cake to escape the cold, made fun of the red wool cap perched atop my head, renewing the age-old debate of whether or not baldness is sexy (or if that is simply a creation of bald men). My response didn’t lay to rest the issue and so they continued to prod me with questions like, “when will modern science come up with a solution to this problem?”, “why don’t women go bald?” and “how is it that, Mike Wallace still has such a nice head of hair?”
As representative of this dubious community, I was forced to make sense of all this confusion and deliver my standard lecture on “The Roots of Baldness (get it? “roots” of baldness…): Past, Present and Future”. Please note that the data presented here were gathered during years of extensive, albeit amatuerish, research.
Lets have a brief look at some of the proposed remedies to this epidemic. There is certainly no shortage of potions and lotions developed that eventually all failed. And while none of this resulted in the growth of any hair, why did sprout and flourish were the bank accounts of the various producers and distributors of these items – and how! The current generation of hair growth solutions has met with some limited success. A friend of mine, at one point began to look like Fiar Tuck, with an ashtray-sized dome in the middle of his head, started using some substance every day and now looks like a Rastafarian. But alas, on most men, even this substance doesn’t produce any tangible results. There are even rumors that it negatively affects sexual functioning. This same friend claims that a full head of hair is more important than sex, but then and again, he was always a bit strange.
Non-traditional medicine has also tried its hand at solving the problem and so for the past few decades, all of those coffee grind-readers and oregano-sniffers have tried selling us alternative solutions – until now with no real success. All those attempts to scatter paprika, shake goats milk and horse urine haven’t done shit, and have only left our heads smelling like hairless herb gardens.
In our desperation, we’ve turned to a varity of synthetic treatments. Here are just a few:
The Toupe serves as a cover for the bald head all throughout the year. During the winter, it also helps to keep the head warm and cozy, but during July and August, it become a major impediment. Toupe wearers sweat from underneath and the beads of sweat collect at the seam between their head and their synthetic hair. Their friends are constantly humiliated in their presence, relating to their toupe-wearing friend as they might to a friend who was married to a cheating wife.
The seasoned toupe wearer typically has three rugs: one for everyday use, one “I need a haircut” version and the third that suggests “I just got my hair cut”. Like everything in life, the problem with the toupe is timing. If you wait too long to get one, your baldspot is already public knowledge and you’ll then find it very difficult to simply show up one day wearing a dead cat on your head. If you began wearing a toupe as a young man, you’ll have difficulty aging normally with the rest of your cohort. Your face will wrinkle, but your hair will remain dark and bristly, suggestive of the famous song “Forever Young”. Indeed the life of the toupe wearer is not easy. He has to avoid swimming pools, mountain tops, helipcopter landing pads and open air vehicles are definitely out of the question.
Guys who put a hat on their toupe tend to elicit feelings of contempt among their bald counterparts. A kind of “adding insult to injury”, if you will. As if to say, “if you are embarassed about wearing a toupe, why’d you get one in the first place?!” Wearing a hat can also be a double-edged sword, since sometimes, when taking off the hat, the toupe can fly off with it.
Yet another disadvantage of the toupe is the “outing” factor. It may not be nice, but on a few occasions, bald guys have sought to force their toupe wearing counterparts out of the closet. I must confess that the practice of trying to spot toupe wearers among male celebrities is as tempting and satisfying as being able to successfully discern those women who’ve had implants. I try to keep this practice of mine behind closed doors. I have great respect for what I call the “bald tshuva” – that repentant toupe wearer who proudly and defiantly returns to the bald commmunity after years of exile, and removes the rug. It isnt easy to simply get up one day and declare “Enough of the lie” and leave the closet of hair recession.
Hair Transplant – an effective and elegant solution for the upper class. The results depend largely on the one performing the transplant. If you go for something cheaper and compromise on quality of the work, your hair is liable to wind up looking like carrot cake. Rows of budding hair, planted in perfect symmetry but somewhat lacking in credibility. Removing the transplanted hair is problematic because it leaves little craters that remind one of landing on the moon. The transplanted hair is actualy removed from some other part of the body. I've never tried this but I was told that the head gradually assumes the form of that same part of the body from which the hair was taken. Thus was born the expression "I just have to lay my head on the couch for a few minutes"; a man whose transplanted hair was taken from his hind quarters. His spurned rear end simply missed sitting in the sofa. Hair transplants are known, among professionals, as "Tu B'Shvat”, or " macramé, and among the common folk as "did you see that dude? He planted a whole forrest on his head. Soon, brids are gonna nest there!"
Dragging from the Side – a practical natural solution with synthetic results. Many bald guys are in denial and tend to ignore and postpone the inevitable acknowledgment of their follicle status. They do this by dragging hair from a lush region of the head to a more barren one. This is usually an interim stage in the career of a bald person. A stop-gap temporary solution, but as is often the case with municipal construction projects, the temporary usually becomes permanent. This is problematic on a number of levels. Firstly, everyone else is fully aware of this attempt to mask the baldness and they've even given this practice a name, derived from the world of banking – "Savings & Loan". Secondly, the forces of nature can often be very cruel to this type of hair-engineering. You’ve probably all seen men on the street or at the beach with a long pony-tail that looks like a rag hanging from their head and covering their eyes, as if he was one of Dali's melting clocks.
At this point, my guests understood that the red wool cap I was wearing was not such a bad solution after all. They looked at me with admiration and empathy. "We didn’t know you suffer so… you're always smiling and in a good mood.. how could we have known?" I shrugged my shoulders and in my heart registered a small victory. My wife served another round of coffee and cake and we started talking about more mundane things in life, such as the ridiculous situation of the trains in this country and the imminent attack on Iran.
Translated by Raviv Schwartz (also a member of the community)