As usual with the first signs of hair loss, it took someone else to tell me about it as I wasn't very good at looking at the back of my head and that's where the rot had started to set in. Hair rot ! Lovely expression.
I was probably in my early to mid twenties at the time and after the initial panic when I tried shoe polish, felt tip pens, indelible markers and embracing Judaism so I could wear a kippah, I decided to simply let nature take its course.....and wear a baseball cap during every waking minute !!
Over the years, hairs continued to permanently jump ship, so to speak, until by my 40's, things had settled down to a sort of compromise between the few remaining hairs and a vast tract of bare exposed scalp. A sort of 80/20 compromise with the bare exposed scalp on top. Literally.
Peer pressure is something we men have to deal with all through school, university and working life and so it was with some relief that one of the first things I did after retiring in 2001 (aged 49 in case you're adding things up and believe I'm much older than I really am) was to cut my own hair. This initially appealed to my sense of financial fortitude and after I'd worked out a balance between cutting it short enough to never have to comb it again and yet not leave me looking like a member of a chain gang, I've been cutting it myself ever since.
But back in the 90's when I was regularly visiting my friends in Michigan, I went to their local hairdresser who was the first to describe the little tuft of hair at the front of my head as 'my island'. This was very apt because the tuft was not connected to the rest of my hair but I still wanted to keep it around as let's face it, any hair is good hair.
Since then, my 'island' has been a source of much discussion and lively debate between the 'hack it off as it looks ridiculous' detractors and the 'leave it alone as it looks sweet' proponents.
My feeling has always been that at a certain angle and with the light in a favourable position, a front facing photo of my head still gives the impression that I have a full head of hair.
See my profile photo at the top right for a good example of this visual phenomenon.
Sadly over the last decade or so, my island has been going the way of many of its South Sea relations and has been 'sinking' under the relentless march of the scalp. It was downgraded to atoll status in 2002 and then a reef in 2006. Not even a barrier reef mind you, more like a coral reef as there were even gaps appearing in its tuftiness.
So after I'd run the number 3 guide over it this morning and glanced in the mirror, I made the tough (or tuft) decision to remove the guide and consign my reef to the depths forever. Two quick passes with the blade and it was no more. It was an ex tuft.
The thing is, when you cut hair away, the scalp underneath remains darker than a bald area as the roots remain. Maybe a couple of swipes with a cut throat blade would help matters but that isn't going to happen. With the anti-clotting pill I'm on for my heart problems, I'm not risking a head cut which usually results in me bleeding like a pig. A pig that shaves very badly indeed.
The other thing is that from the minute I put away the clippers, my island tuft will have started to grow again. That's the nature of things and so I've given myself a weekly task of keeping it in check.
It won't be a big task of course !
So right now I'm getting used to the loss of my island.....sorry coral reef.....and am not brave enough to post a photo. Once the counselling sessions are over and I've become accustomed to my new look, then maybe. Maybe.
Until then I'll continue to watch tv wearing a baseball cap and curse those bank robbers and terrorists who have given balaclavas a bad name !
Is it just me or is it really cold today ?