Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hair Loss and Residual Self Image

I needed a haircut, or at least I thought that I did. Normally, I keep my hair really short because it gets all poofy and ya’know like totally unmanageable and stuff. It could even get so long and unruly it might actually take on a life of its own and I’ll be combing it in the morning and it will purr or gnaw on the comb or something.

I mentioned this fact to my wife during dinner last night (the fact about needing a haircut not the thought that my hair might start to purr or something equally horrifying). At that moment she made a comment involving the length of my hair and how having my hair cut professionally instead of doing it myself might hide my bald spot.

The last two words took a second to sink in…

Bald Spot…Bald spotBald Spot… echo echo echo

WHAT?? I laughed at the ridiculous nature of what she had said and blew it off as best I could. All the while, those words rattled around in my head. “BALD SPOT??? What bald spot? What the heck is she talking about? I don’t have any such thing… I’m only 38, brilliantly handsome, witty, athletic and pretty much super-cool in every way… People like that don’t have bald spots… Unheard of…

I must have looked a little shocked, so she deftly pounded the topic home with a verbal pile driver by saying, “It’s not so bad, really. You are tall enough that most people don’t see it.”

Ack! Oh yeah, that reeeally helps assuage my fears.” I thought. (Although I may have actually voiced the “Ack!” part.) Her “You’re tall” theory didn’t help at all, especially since I know that I spend 99.9% of my time sitting at a desk behind a computer where all the people that walk in are naturally taller than me!” Crap! I was shaken to the core…

Everyone has an image of what they look like in their head, and that is how everyone assumes everyone else sees them. I think Morpheus called it “Residual Self Image” as he explained the computer world to Neo in the first Matrix movie…uh…I’ll move on now…

Sooo, I had this image in my head, and it wasn’t too far off the one I see in the mirror every morning. Well the reflection wasn’t too different except for the parts where my mental image was more handsome, less scruffy, less bleary eyed, somehow younger, and exuded an aura of sheer-mega-awesomeness as compared to the skinny, goofy looking guy staring back at me from mirror.

Even after last night’s comments about bald spots, I went about cutting my hair this morning and pulled out a mirror to look at the back of my head to make sure I didn’t miss anything or accidentially shave a Nike Swoosh back there. That’s when I finally noticed a version of me that…uh… everyoneelsesees

There it was in all its unflattering glory. Good Lord! There is this great thinning patch on the top of my head! What the heck is going on here? I’m sure it’s never been there before!!! It’s like a miniature version of the deforested Amazon river basin…without the Toucans and Howler Monkeys… Which, by the way, just might just take up residence if I let my hair get too long. How long has this follicly-challenged patch been there??? How could this have happened? What’s next? Am I going to wake up one morning and discover a second face on the back of my head or something? Like the evil Voldemort that appeared on the back of the head of the Dark Arts professor in one of the Harry Potter movies.

*Side note* Ok, the super-cool and witty part of my super-extra-mega-awesome-self-image is a little tarnished now that I realize I have referenced both a Sci-Fi movie and something from a Harry Potter movie in the same post. Crap… I’m about 2 seconds from realizing that I am a serious mega-geek.

Nope…I’ve repressed all that now. I’m like totally waaay cool again.

My reaction to the previously unknown/unrecognized balding was quite calm, reserved, and most assuredly dignified… In other words, I don’t think I sobbed too loudly at the shattered remains of my self-image scattered on the floor.

In hindsight (i.e. now that I have stopped pitifully moaning about it) I guess I knew about the euphemistically “thinning hair” since I have been cutting my own hair for a decade or more. I had always managed to explain it away as yet another bad self haircut that I convinced myself I would get right the next time.

Man, sometimes life sneaks up on you I guess, or maybe I really will try letting someone else cut my hair…