Friday, December 14, 2007

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

My lack of hair and my advanced age have combined to allow me to easily cut my own hair these days. Even though I save money by doing it, it's still all quite depressing.

I've had more head than hair for some time now and I vividly remember when it all started. I was in my upstairs flat in the Harehills district of Leeds - which probably put me in my mid 20's. For some reason I used a hand mirror to look at the back of my head, probably based on some witty comment from a friend. I was horrified to see head where hair should have been and the rest, as they say, is history. Like my hair in fact.

It's never bothered me much. Well not really. I've never tried to hide it and certainly would never try a comb over. Probably because it would take me too long to grow enough strands of hair to actually throw over to the other side.

So a few years ago, after recovering from a heart attack, I decided I didn't need the physical effort of dealing with the hair that was left and so I gave myself a No.2 and although it was a bit of a visual shock to almost be a skinhead in my 50's, I loved not having to comb, brush or even wash my hair every day. A quick splash when showering is all it needs.

As I'm a sort of mid Atlantic citizen now anyway, I wear a baseball cap most times when I go out and about and so even if I mess up my haircut, no one knows. Apart from maybe missing a little tuft, it's hard to mess it up. Just go over the whole head and try and keep the clippers flush to the skull with the correct cutting guide in place.

Ahhhh the guide. I should throw the others away or put them out of reach or something. If I'd done that, then I'd never have messed up once and given myself a No.1. Opps. The glance in the mirror was beyond shocking.

You see I take my glasses off when cutting my hair and after just a couple of passes over the back of my head where most of my remaining hairs reside, I sensed something was amiss. When I looked at the guide number, my worst fears were realised. But once started, I had to continue and the end result was not a pretty sight.

For weeks I wore my baseball cap INSIDE.

Having my hair cut when I was growing up in Ballymoney (N. Ireland) seems all the more distant now. I was never a trend setter, hair wise. Not really a trend follower either. We were simple folk and a trip to 'the barber' resulted in a short back and sides that would've made a US Marine proud. The place even had a classic striped pole outside for goodness sake. Until I was old enough and tall enough to sit properly in the chair, a wooden board was placed across it and I'd be lifted up onto it.

That indignity was bad enough but my pleas to have my hair cut as I wanted it fell on deaf ears too - as the barber would only take instructions from my mum or dad.

Barber : "The usual, young man" ?

Me : "Well no actually, I'm torn between shaved sides with a thick flat top or a look like that young Elvis fella, and heavy on the Brillcream."

Mum : "The usual"

It was all a bit much for a 24 year old !! And I was NEVER asked if I wanted 'something for the weekend' either. I suspect even the barber reasoned that with that haircut, I'd be spending my weekends alone.

But that was the best part of 40 years ago. Where does the time (and hair) go ?? Both slip away much too quickly for my liking. In the UK we tend to live in one place and work in one place much longer than people over here in America. I'm not sure if that seems to make time pass slower or faster.

My mum and dad got married, moved into a council house and that was it for over 50 years. 50 years in the same house. Well actually dad left first when he died in 1986 but mum lived on, alone, in that house until she too left it forever after 53 years in 2003. I think I've got the same 'homing gene' as I've clocked up 25 years in my one and only house. Dad worked for the same company all his life and although I had a short spell with two companies at either end of my career, I spent 25 of my 29 working years with ASDA, the supermarket company based in Leeds - now part of the WalMart family, as the sign outside the headquarters informs us.

So I'm not really into change and over here everyone IS into change. I buy things expecting them to last me for decades. Over here in the throwaway society, you buy things expecting them to last till the weekend. You buy a 1gb flashcard and when they bring out a 2gb card, you move up. 4gb, sir ? Yes please. Can't fill the 1gb card but what the hell.

But I fear I too am being seduced by all this crass consumerism. There was an advert on telle the other night for the latest addition to the Rogaine range - the product that claims to regrow your hair. Rogaine Foam. Now that sounds like fun.

But I think it might be too late for me as it wouldn't have a lot to work with. I'd just be a 'foam head' with no more hair than I have now.

If only it had been available back when I first looked in the mirror and noticed a small island of head appearing in an otherwise luxuriant sea of hair.

Now, sadly, it's the sea of hair that has become the island. Well more of an shrinking atoll really.

But as I said earlier, it has it's good points. I get up in the morning knowing that, hair wise, I'm looking as good as when I went to bed.

Well I don't care what you say, I'M taking that as a good point.

1 comment:

Daphne said...

I expect things to stay the same, too - our family have lived in this house for a Very long time. I do like the continuity - the huge tree that I bought as a tiny sapling when I was in my early teens - and I'm not THAT ancient, honest - but, as you say, it leads me to expect things to last, and they often don't.
As for the hair: look, having hair is fine: having no hair is fine, only a combover is a Really Bad Idea. Or a bad wig. Or dying it jet black when you're ninety-three.

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