There are some things they never teach you in school, the most important of those being that life is an imperfect diamond. No doubt, it still is a precious gem to be enjoyed and cherished. It has smooth sections when you feel on top of the world, and moments that shine like The Sun’s reflection on a still lake during a cool autumn day, that serve to remind you the joys of being alive. But bring that diamond away from the bright show lights and high-pressure salesmanship of the jewellers and look a little closer; you may be surprised by what you find. A truly perfect diamond is as rare as me coming up with anything useful to say before 10am and at least one cup of coffee.
Just like almost all diamonds, life has flaws that you have to learn to live with and look past. Oh you can pretend they aren’t there and deny it all you want, but sooner or later one of those flaws is going to bite you in the proverbial ass (kind of like that mosquito that decides to gnaw on your real one, forcing you to scratch your butt cheek in public and look like a complete tool). Now, unless my memory is failing me — which on some days when I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my shoulders, could be true — we were never told as children that adulting sometimes really sucks. You know, like when that adorable new puppy decides to drop a steamer on your brand new rug. Or an hour after getting new tires put on your car fate decides to bless you with a nice shiny nail on the road. The IKEA furniture you open up to find one fucking piece missing, after which you immediately regret not eating any meatballs while you were still in the store to soften the blow.
You see? Flaws.
I’d be lying like a drunken politician if I said my life wasn’t — and still isn’t — full of more flaws than a cheap pair of underwear you bought from the discount store. However, over my years of gained wisdom and grey hairs (yay) I’ve learned a powerful lesson in looking past them. So first, ignore the “pretending to be cool and handsome and look like I know what I’m doing” version of me in the photo on my About page. Now, wind the cassette tape back 27 years (yes, I’m getting old) to me as a much thinner and saner 20 year old version of that photo with lustrous locks on my head — you in the back, I can hear you laughing — and there I was feeling impervious to life’s surprises. Then it happened…
”Why is there so much fucking hair in the drain?”
It can’t be. No way am I walking around looking like a hairy melon. Conveniently, I managed to forget all the times as a kid surrounded by bald men amongst my father, and almost all of my relatives, that I was clearly and subjectively screwed in that lottery. The ship had long ago sailed, yet there I was staring down at the brown curly wisps of my youth like a deer caught in the headlights. Not long thereafter, the image of one of my university professors with a combover that looked like something pulled out of the grease trap from Pizza Hut populated my already tormented balding head. That’s fucking super, why didn’t anyone warn me about looking forward to this? I’d like a refund on my adulting subscription please, this is flagrantly false advertising.
I was literally crippled by this loss. To someone else it may have just been another speed bump, another eccentricity of life to simply laugh off. To me it was tragic and unbearable; a flaw in that diamond that I now couldn’t un-see (especially every time I looked in the mirror, which was terrifying enough at the wrong time of day). I investigated everything short of Ron Popeil’s spray on hair in a can, because no. Interestingly, I discovered that there are more lotions, potions, and magical snake oil concoctions you can rub on your head than the local massage parlour. All of this in a futile attempt to try and regrow hair on a cucumber of a head.
After all the informercials, conversations with my doctor, and ultimately the five stages of grief for me: denial, denial, denial, denial, and fuck it, I took a cue from one of my idols in life. Sir Patrick Stewart. Undoubtedly one of life’s cool cats, and a man who rocks the bald like an absolute badass. I still remember watching the episode of him entering the holodeck playing a trench coat and Fedora-wearing detective named Dixon Hill, and thinking to myself he just makes baldness look epic. It was a look I could see myself sporting, especially as someone who tends to be a non-conformist when it comes to style choices. So, I picked up my trimmers, warmed up the shave gel, and participated in my own chrome-dome challenge. In about half an hour of time, and several moments of trepidation wondering if I’d completely lost my marbles, I was done.
I was bald.
It was a strange sensation as I stared back at a far less jacked and ripped version of Mr. Clean in the mirror. Not quite feeling the Jean-Luc Picard badassery I was anticipating, I was looking like more of a man-baby missing his pacifier. ”Well, that’s just fucking great”, I thought. After all that work and personal coaxing to take this bold step, I end up looking like a shaved ape. The reactions I got from classmates didn’t help either, though in my defence bald wasn’t “in” back then like it is now. Still, that was like a kick to my pride with a steel-toed boot. There was also the relative of one of my exes when introducing me who greeted my entrance with “You’re dating a skinhead‽”. Subtle.
I persevered, however, and eventually I grew to like my new look. Soon, the Stewart vibes were coursing through my veins faster than the Enterprise at warp nine. I came to terms with my hair loss, and ultimately, with that particular flaw in the diamond of my life. There were, and no doubt still are more to find, but I along with all of us need to look past the flaws and realize that life is still a gift. Unlike actual diamonds, life unfortunately isn’t indestructible, but we can still enjoy the shimmering facets it offers while it lasts.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to plug in my trimmer.
Posted in #SeptemberScrawls - Day 3