My hair is getting thinner. Maybe. I think so, but it’s hard to say. It could be my imagination, but sometimes I wake up and it’s matted in a way that the whiteness of my scalp peeks through in places where I swear it didn’t used to. When I was younger, barbers would routinely comment “Wow. Your hair is so thick!” Now they make small talk about the weather and ask what I do for a living. I try to lead them a little. "Yep, it's a hot one. This humidity is so thick, it reminds me of something but I can't place it. Any ideas?" but it's no use. Mine is just another unremarkable head in their daily lineup. I’m trying not to let it bother me. I decided early on that I’d accept hair loss gracefully if it ever became my fate.
I pity the men who try to hold on for too long. Hair plugs. Rogaine. Comb overs. These are all sadder than just going bald. It’s a lesson I learned from having terrible acne in high school. I looked around at my peers. Some of us had clear skin but a lot of us didn’t and I realized acne wasn’t as unattractive as the insecurity it causes. Baldness plays by the same rules. Thankfully, I’m blessed with a well-shaped head. I wore a tight, self-administered buzz cut for many years. A return to that style has always been the plan if my hair starts to go. I took comfort in that insurance policy, knowing I can always just buzz the whole thing and not look like shit.
But now the prospect of baldness is at my door and playing it cool isn’t so easy. Even if I’m not losing my hair, I’m thinking about it. And worrying about aging might be more sinister than aging itself. I’m letting the anguish of hair loss get a head start on terrorizing my psyche. No havoc has yet been wreaked on my scalp, but I've already given it access to what lies beneath.
While I might only have suspicion when it comes to baldness, I can say with certainty that some hairs are definitely turning grey. There’s a big one right in the middle of my bangs that hasn’t only changed color, but texture too. It’s wiry, with a weird curl to it that demands even more attention. I know it could take decades to go completely grey or bald but the point is, it’s started. The degradation has begun. If death is a giant monster creeping up behind you, grey hairs are the shadow it casts. To be at peace with wrinkles, declining vision and grey, thinning hair is to be at peace with mortality. An honest commercial for hair dye would show people with thick, dark manes smiling while a voiceover asks, “Are you tired of being reminded your existence is fleeting?”
It’s funny though, how my body has seen so many milestones of biological progress, but only these most recent ones are dubbed by our society to be “signs of aging”. When I learned to walk, that was a sign of aging. When I first had to shave, that was a sign of aging. But at the time it all feels so new and exciting. You’d have to be a pretty cynical adolescent to get your first boner and think “Well, I’m one step closer to death.” But for some reason that’s the feeling that greying hair evokes. When I think of it this way, I realize I don't have to give it that power. It won't be easy, but I can choose to see hair loss as the “first boner” of my adult life. My body is doing something that freaks me out and I’m not exactly sure why its happening but, just like boners, I'll come to enjoy it and hope my girlfriend will too. I guess now is my time to begin blossoming into an older man.
Come see my slowly aging body do stand up this February. I'll be on tour with Escape From New York Comedy. Learn more and get tickets here.