“He who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by changing any thing but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove.” - Dr. Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No, 6
As I look in the mirror and gaze over the forest of my crown, I feel like a Bornean Orangutan surveying the aftermath of a fresh bout of illegal logging.
“When the jungle is gone, what will be left of me?”
Given its widespread and inevitable nature, male hair-loss should perhaps be considered another rite of passage, comparable to a second puberty. But it’s not, because of one crucial distinction. Despite its individual variegations, adolescence is a predictable chain reaction detonated among the the general public within a designated era. As such, it can be planned for, contained and endured.
Balding affects less than half of less than half of the population, so in this sense is more analogous to being a white man playing in the NBA. In these as with most issues pertaining to minorities, society is loath to countenance appeals for special treatment.
What pale-skinned b-ballers are not exposed to, however, is emotive and targeted advertising to convince them they could be darker. Lotions and potions abound, promising almost as much as they cost. Antipodean sports fans will be familiar with a company that supplies new hair to certain high-profile cricketers. The business is quick to mail out glossy brochures, but slow to divulge its methods, for the same reason that you don’t take children to an abattoir. It’s a jelly scalp, sewn with human hair (your own I think, from round the sides, categorically not the bum) that is stuck to the top of your lid and necessitates a monthly glueing down. All of these ‘treatments’ rely on the creation and maintenance of a sense that depilation is somehow undesirable, which seems particularly nonsensical when it is considered that hair removal is another lucrative industry that preys on members of the opposite sex.
I propose a radical change of disposition; one that will save money and worry, and also free us from the clutches of a vain and universal heresy. Balding is proof negative of a theory that has achieved supremacy in the philosophical parliament of the western collective unconscious: that we are the sole authors of our lives. This fallacy has emboldened us to behave uncharitably towards the poor and unhealthy (who brought it on themselves after all) and praise the rich and renowned (who got there all on their own).
So strong is our determination to claim authorship that for any inheritances for which we cannot take credit, we rush to take the blame. As our bellies slacken, we rue the extra beers. As our hips and knees become worn to a grind we curse our younger selves for not exercising more or less. We grudgingly accept the pity of others for the development of inherited health conditions, but only after finding ourselves not guilty of baiting the grizzly bear of genetic predisposition by smoking or eating KFC.
The glaborous dome encourages us to rejoice in the thought that we are genetic cycle-couriers, dashing on our fixies through the rush hour of life, carrying a package of physical instructions from our ancestors to deliver to our unwitting progeny, no signature required.
Hopefully this simple change of disposition will also address the latest great injustices of the world: that a full head of hair has become a prerequisite for high public office, and that Jason Statham’s acting talents have been confined to action films.
In the meantime it behooves the thinning, like myself to lead the charge. The Orangutan in me must treat it like an ant on a blade of grass, and suck it up. No more shaking fingers through my scalp to froth my curly hair.
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