Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hairy Junk Mail

An increasingly rare piece of junk mail arrived in my mailbox today—the old-fashioned kind delivered by a flesh and blood human being that can be handled, and eventually recycled and picked up by another flesh and blood human being on recycling day. It was a mass mailing from a hair replacement center—one that I’m familiar with, by the way, only because I’ve passed by it many times in my travels. I also knew a client of the place.

While I concede to qualifying as bald bait—their target audience—I did not request information on this business’s services. So, whether I landed on the mailing list as somebody’s not particularly funny joke, or some strange commercial coincidence, I couldn’t help but hark back to that acquaintance of mine who patronized this very hairpiece establishment. It seems that—when he put his John Hancock on the dotted line—he essentially took out a long-term mortgage on his scalp.

Fast balding on top at a relatively young age, this fellow looked perfectly fine when he went he went for broke on that fateful day. I recall the moment that, in a matter of a few hours, he went from being predominantly bald to having a luxurious head of hair. It was a peculiar metamorphosis to say the least. He promptly informed all who would listen of the satin pillows he now had to rest his weary head on—something about the unwanted effects of static—and the special shampoo lotions he had to use, which not surprisingly cost a pretty penny. This was all adding up to real money and real fast, I thought. Then, of course, there were the recurring readjustments—the $100 plus haircuts he had to endure every month. And, on top of all that, what remained of his real hair was still falling out. So, more and more of the horsehair—or whatever the hair replacement center employed—had to be added to the new weave.

Maybe it’s just me, but it all seemed like an awful lot to go through—even beyond the expense—to, at the end of the day, look like a guy wearing a hairpiece. This particular Manhattan outfit churns out a certain kind of rug, which I’ve seen on many others. Once upon a time a pizza place owner not too far away had a balding top, and he made a similar pact with the hair devil. The first thing a friend of mine, who hadn’t seen him in a while, said was: “When did the pizza guy get the rug?”

A favorite teacher of mine in high school—who simultaneously taught a senior year religion course and was dramatically thinning on top—once said of his hair: “I can’t cling to it.” I know there was some broader and connecting life point vis-à-vis the course’s subject matter, which I’ve long since forgotten after thirty years, but I’ve never lost sight of the big picture. No satin pillows, strange elixirs for the head, and regular haircuts that cost more than the gas and electric bill combined—and in perpetuity to boot—for me. I’d just assume not go broke in an effort to look like a pizza guy with bad hair. And, while I'm rooting for the post office to survive: Please, Mr. Hair Man, remove me from your mailing list.

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