Being the Bald Guy

Some local high school kids raised a bunch of money for cancer research last week by shaving their heads. A girl at my daughter’s school did it and raised thousands of dollars from corporate sponsors and kids in her English class.

I can’t begin to describe the respect I have for her. A high school girl shaving her head for a cause? That would never have happened in the Farrah-Fawcett-charged ‘70s, when I was in high school. We didn’t even know what a cause was and even if we did, we wouldn’t have given up our hair for it.

We protected our hair like it was made of spun gold. That was followed by the ‘80s, where hair was our biggest body part. Now it’s an optional accessory. You can barely tell anything at all about a person’s character anymore, based on the hair.

Remember when Telly Savalas was The Bald Guy? If you needed a bald guy for your movie, he was pretty much guaranteed the part. In the ‘70s when all other male actors had flowing tresses, Telly Savalas stood out like a freak. (And I mean that in only the nicest way, Telly. I’ll tell you who loves you, baby; we do, with your cute bald head.)

This was back before other actors realized that they, too, could shave their heads. They, too, could be The Bald Guy. And six months later, they could be Maladjusted Viet Nam Vet or one the apostles, thanks to hair extensions or just the fact that hair grows back. (Who knew?)

But now everybody’s bald. First male actors whose hairlines were receding, then female actors who were playing soldiers, futuristic alien catchers and Queen Elizabeth I, then regular non-actor guys. Now regular non-actor high school girls.

I think that is bravery beyond belief. Any high school girl who shaves her head for a cause is about as close to Susan B. Anthony as you can get. Do you know how much self-esteem is required to go bald? If you have a lumpy head, there’s little you can do about it. Wigs are so out. 

My oldest son shaved his head once. Not for a cause, not because he had lice and not on a dare. He went to a pre-track meet party and some of the team were shaving their heads, so he jumped off a bridge sat in the chair and got his head shaved. I walked into our kitchen shortly after he got home, took one look at him and screamed AHHHHH! and dropped my car keys. Then I spent the next six weeks standing in line waiting my turn to touch his head. That peach-fuzz stubble is like having a security blanket attached to your skull.

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