I, myself, am not a bald man. Therefore, in the interest of scientific research, Long Island resident “Shorty G.,” the baldest man I know, has graciously consented to this interview.
Fearing identity theft, “Shorty” agreed to speak only upon assurance of complete anonymity. He was very open and aboveboard concerning his descent from full head of hair to severe follicular deprivation.
Here is the transcript of our interview.
PAZ: So, Shorty. I’ve known you for a long time, and I happen to have seen a picture of you back in the fifties with quite a remarkable head of hair. What happened?
Shorty: Yes, I was a teenager then. I actually had a DA in the back and a big wave in the front. Not a pompadour; just a big wave, like “Kookie.” You know, “Lend me your comb?” I used to spend 15-20 minutes in front of the mirror every morning, trying to get it just right.
PAZ: When did you first notice you were losing it upstairs?
Shorty: Not until my early twenties.
PAZ: Did you notice a big pile of hair on the floor one day? Would you say it fell out in clumps?
Shorty: No, it wasn’t like a disease or anything. It just started thinning. Actually, “thinning” is too strong a word, because it was too slow a process.
PAZ: Did you feel awful?
Shorty. No. I wasn’t at all concerned about it, because I knew it was inevitable. My father was bald, you know. I didn’t attach any negativity to being bald. Either I was or I wasn’t.
PAZ: What did you do?
Shorty: I didn’t do anything. I never used Rogaine. I didn’t join the Hair Club for Men.
PAZ: How long did it take you, hair-loss-wise, to get to where you are today?
Shorty: I’d say it stopped falling out about ten years ago. In my early sixties. It’s been staying the same since then.
PAZ: Do you live your life any differently now, as a bald man, than you did when you looked like “Kookie?”
Shorty: No. I still spend 15-20 minutes in front of the mirror every morning. I still use a brush, and the funny thing is that I automatically brush the top of my head first, as if there was still hair up there.
Shorty: I still have hair over my ears, and it still grows, too! Mrs. Shorty has to cut it. I brush that as well.
PAZ: I’ve heard it said that the hair on your head compares in some respects to a cat’s whiskers. Can you elaborate on that?
Shorty: Yes. When you are bald, it is much easier to bump your head. Normally, the hair on top of your head will give you a clue if you are close to bumping it. When you don’t have any hair, you just straight off bump your head. So I always wear a hat when I’m working under the car.
PAZ: The hat takes the place of the cat’s whiskers, then?
PAZ: And does your head get sunburned?
Shorty: Yes. This is another reason why I always wear a hat.
PAZ: Are you ever concerned about heat loss through the top of your head?
Shorty: Yes; I have a different hat for that. Sometimes when I’m sleeping in a cold place, I have a special little hat that I wear to keep my head warm. It’s a little ski cap; sort of like a stocking cap.
PAZ: Like Ebenezer Scrooge?
Shorty: Well, his hat was probably more expensive. And Scrooge wore a nightgown. I never could wear those things. They bunch up under my arms. I don’t know how people sleep in them.
PAZ: Well, at least when you go swimming, you don’t have to worry about getting your hair wet.
Shorty: You’d be surprised. When you’re fifteen and have a “wave” like Kookie, you tend to throw your head back when you come up out of the water, to get the wet hair out of your eyes. When you’re seventy and bald, you still do the same thing! Even though there’s no hair left on top. It must be some kind of muscle memory.
PAZ: I’ve never noticed that.
Shorty: That’s because you don’t spend enough time looking at old men in swimming pools.
PAZ: Well, I must say I admire you for dealing with this gracefully. I have never seen you with a comb-over.
Shorty: Not me, but I once had a friend who played club dates in the evenings: weddings, stuff like that. “Curly” lost as much hair as I did over the years, but because he was performing on stage, he wanted to look younger. So “Curly” let his hair grow long like Benjamin Franklin. What he would do was to comb the hair up from the back and from the sides, and sort of weave it all together on the top of his head. His barber taught him how to do that.
PAZ: And it stayed that way while he was playing?
Shorty: He used a lot of hair spray.
PAZ: I guess there are worse things a man could do.
Shorty: You’d be surprised. I was once on the subway when this strange little short guy walked in. He looked like Salvador Dali. He was with this beautiful, tall blonde woman, and the top of his head was shiny black. You could tell it wasn’t real hair. It was obviously shoe polish or something like that. I’ve never forgotten that guy.
PAZ: I’m surprised the tall blonde didn’t notice. Are you sure she was with him?
Shorty: And then there was that Hair in a Can stuff. It was like a spray paint with fibers in it. The idea was that people would spray paint their heads. The fibers would coat the paint and cover the shine so people would think it was real hair.
PAZ: I remember the commercial.
Shorty: There was actually a professor at [Blank] University who used that stuff. He thought he looked really handsome, but he couldn’t see what people were doing behind his back.
PAZ: The poor man.
PAZ: Well, Shorty, I really appreciate your opening up to me like this. And I want to thank you for being so honest. Not many men would admit to some of the things you’ve told me. I must say I admire you for it.
Shorty: Any time. Any time.
PAZ: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Unfortunately, there was no response to this question, as Shorty was nodding off. So with that, our interview drew to a close. Shorty hopes to have shed a bit more light on the problem of dealing with male pattern baldness. However, I believe that anything else he might have to say on the subject could be deemed unfit for publication.