Breaking Bald


The good old days

When I was a kid, I had an incredibly thick head of hair.  My grandma would brush it before she took me to school in the morning, and I used to hate it because it hurt so bad.  She would get the brush stuck in snags, I’d wince, and she would say, “Well, you’ve just got so much hair!”  Personally, I think she was just in a hurry, and wasn’t being very gentle.  Still, I only wish a brush could get caught in my hair nowadays.

Yes, I’m going bald.  Slowly, for sure, but it’s happening.  I’m on the verge of turning 35 and, while that doesn’t make me unique among guys my age, it still isn’t something any of us look forward to.  It’s so demoralizing, in fact, that a lot of us spend a good part of our day trying to cover it up.  We spend more time in front of the mirror than we used to, checking every angle for signs of thinning hair, then figuring out a natural-looking style we can use to conceal it.  What if I change my part?  What if I comb this area sideways, and this area forward?  Some of us buy expensive products that promise to help regrow hair, or at least slow its loss.  Others go the more ridiculous route, and opt for hair transplant surgery, or even the dreaded hairpiece.  People like me can’t afford that, and wouldn’t spend the money if I could, so I’ve chosen the cheaper option of just putting on a baseball hat occasionally.  I call it the poor man’s toupee.


I’m 33 here. Not too shabby.

I remember the first time I noticed something was wrong.  I was in my early 20s and saw a Polaroid of myself at a “meet and greet” with my favorite professional wrestler, Mick Foley.  We were standing under lights, and I could see much more of my scalp exposed in the photo than I thought was normal.  I was horrified.  How could this be?  I’ve always had such thick hair!  I tried explaining it away as a bad angle, or my hair being oily and stuck together that day.  Anything, that is, except for the truth.  I was just losing my hair.

After that, I started paying more attention in other areas.  I began to notice the number of strands left on my pillow when I woke up.  I would see the hair left in the drain trap after a shower.  I would go online and see how much hair the average male has on their head, then attempt crazy multiplication in my mind.  If I lost x number of hairs per day that weren’t replaced, how long until I was completely bald?  I began to be a lot more careful when drying my hair after bathing, even eschewing the use of a towel altogether in favor of air drying.  There was even a short time where I would hang my head upside down over the side of my bed for 15 minutes because I believed the blood flow would prevent hair loss.  I was driving myself crazy, and what I was doing didn’t make any sense.  Eventually, I just let all that go and allowed nature to take its course.

It has been a good run, but this past year especially has been a reality check for me.  I can look at older pictures of myself and see that my hairline has been receding over time.  Keeping my hair around medium length wasn’t doing much of anything other than prolonging the inevitable.  It was becoming easier and easier to see how thin I was getting up front, and whenever my hair was wet, or I stood under the light in my bedroom, I could see in the mirror that it wasn’t looking good around the crown of my head either.  It was time to change things up.


A look of horror as my hair is rapidly thinning

So, I’ve finally decided to do something about it.  No, I haven’t started using Rogaine, but I’m taking control of the way I look just the same.  After reading multiple articles, watching videos online, and noticing how men with thinning hair have been cutting their hair short, I felt like it was time to follow their lead.  Early Saturday morning I grabbed my Wahl clippers, and almost without thinking about it, grabbed the #5 attachment.  I first wanted to see what I would look like with hair half as short as I normally wear it.  Well, it looked terrible.  The thin spots were hideous.  I popped the #5 off and grabbed the #2.  Using this would make my hair 2/8th of an inch.  I hadn’t had a buzz cut like that since I was a boy, but away I went, buzzing and shearing my hair away with reckless abandon.  I watched clumps of hair fall to the floor, deciding not to look in the mirror until I was done.  Then, let come what may.

I finished up, trying my best to get behind my ears, and taking off any random longer hairs I missed.  Finally, when I saw nothing else falling, I looked up into the mirror.  That was my face, all right, but I looked different.  I reached my hand to my head and felt my hair.  Strange after so many years of being able to run my fingers through it, because all I could feel now were sharp little nubs.  I rubbed my hand over my unshaven face and it was a similar sensation.  I looked again at my face and hair together.  I kind of liked it.  I felt free.


My new look

The truth is, buzzing my hair off showed my just how bald I had been getting.  The infamous horseshoe pattern of baldness that men get was definitely taking shape.  But that’s okay.  I’m glad I know.  I don’t like it, but I can accept it knowing that it is the reality.  And I’ll admit it.  I haven’t totally gotten over my self-consciousness yet.  While I’m going hatless outside to get some sun on my scalp, I’m still putting the hat on when I walk into a store.  Occasionally I take it off and rub my hand back and forth on my head.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting a little more confident each day.

If I have any advice to give to someone who has been in my situation and is wondering what they should do, I would recommend them buzzing their hair off too.  Whether you’re overweight like me, or thin, and no matter the shape of your head.  If you are considering it, just do it and get it over with.  Worse case scenario, if you really hate it, it’ll grow back in a few months.  But you may just surprise yourself and enjoy it.

Now that the weekend is over, my big test is going back to work.  I can’t wear hats there, so I’m going to surprise my friends and co-workers with my new ‘do first thing, then just let my balding noggin be freely exposed while I answer phones, call customers, and pound the keyboard all day.  The quicker I realize no one is staring at my head, because no one actually gives a damn if I’m going bald, the better off I’ll be.  I’ve gotta tell you, I’m actually looking forward to it.