In many ways, I was extremely lucky to go bald when I did. I was in London, a place where people generally don’t give a toss what you look like. And I was in the mid-nineties, when head-shaving was a bit fashionable and actually a bit sexy (thank you, Grant Mitchell). I had none of the dilemmas that my slap-headed ancestory had to deal with; getting a rug, using those mad hairsprays or trying to rock a Bobby Charlton were not options I could entertain. The best thing to do was get shot of it all and not give a fuck. Which I did, and I do.
In the spirit of Dan’s recent post, and for the benefit of men everywhere who are heading that way - and for women who don’t understand – this is what it’s like..
1. Yes, it really is a very big deal.
Losing your hair, no matter how brave a face you put on (or underneath) it, is horrible. For starters, it’s usually the first sign that you’re beginning to slip away from your peak. Not only are you constantly tracking the spread of your male pattern baldness, you also start monitoring people’s reactions to it. You watch the direction of their eyes when you talk to them, and are just waiting for them to make comment on it. And when you’re in a relationship, it’s even worse; it’s a very obvious dealbreaker (in fact, I still believe that me shaving my head was the nail in the coffin of the relationship I was in at the time).
2. When you do it for the first time, you turn it into an event.
There’s no turning back, and it’s almost a rite of passage, so you have to make the most of it. You could book in at the most expensive barbers you know and have someone apply the straight-edge razor to your head (seeing as it’ll be the last time you ever have need of places like that), or you could spend a couple of hours slowly doing it yourself – giving yourself a Travis Bickle Mohican along the way, of course.
3. You will spend the first week constantly touching your scalp, looking in every reflective surface in the vicinity, and feeling extremely vulnerable.
It’s weird how the lack of a couple of inches of hair makes you feel fragile as fuck. Just as someone who switches from glasses to contact lenses can’t help pushing a finger along the bridge of their nose, you will be flinching whenever the wind changes.
4. However, at some point in that first week, you will walk under a low-hanging tree and realise that you suddenly have an enormous new erogenous zone.
Seriously. And when it snows for the first time, your knees will buckle.
5. Your mates will deem it The Most Important Thing to Ever Happen in The History Of Everything.
One or two of them – the infantile sort whose sense of humour never left the laughing-at-one’s-own-genitals stage – will make constant references to Kojak, do the slapping thing Benny Hill did to Jackie Wright, etc etc. Yawn. The others will bang on relentlessly about how brave you are, as if you’ve amputated your own arms with a knife between your teeth during a polar expedition. Either way, you’ll be obliged to reveal it to everyone you know as if you were The Queen unveiling a statue, over and over again.
Oh, and none of your male friends will tell you what you need to know – that you don’t look like a twat.
6. Your female friends, on the other hand, will tell you that you don’t look like a twat.
But, unless they suddenly pull you towards them and say “My God, I never realised how sexy you are – let’s do it right here, on this pub table”, you won’t believe them.
7. Then they’ll tell you that you look like Harry Goldenblatt off Sex And The City.
But seeing as you’d sooner watch your Dad shit in a glass bucket than that load o’ rammell, you won’t know who he is, and get a bit scared that he’s a paedophile or something.
8. You will automatically lose any chance of getting some with at least 60% of the female population.
Sorry, but it has to be said.
9. Of the remaining 40%, half of those that would get with you want to because they think you’re something you’re not.
This was a real eye-opener for me. I used to have a skinhead cut when I moved to London, and an alarmingly high percentage of my peers thought I was a racist, Gay, or a Gay racist. As soon as I shaved it all off, a lot of people assumed I was hard as fuck (when I’m actually soft as arseholes). A lot of the women I ran into appeared to have a penchant for nightclub bouncers, and were a bit let down when I wasn’t nailing them to the bed and offering to beat the shit out of any man who had done them wrong, even if all he had done was short-change them by 5p at the newsagents.
10. Regardless of whether they fancy you or not, all women will want to stroke your head.
…whilst being totally unaware of Point 4, and not realising that to people like me, stroking a bald scalp is foreplay. I’ll be sat in the pub minding my own business, some pissed-up girl who I don’t even know runs her hand over my head on the way to the bar, and she might as well have licked it. When your female friends do it, it’s even worse; you have to fight to stop yourself running your hand up their leg in response. So please don’t do it.
(actually, fuck it; do do it. It’s the only pleasure I get nowadays)
11. You get used to it very quickly, to the point that you’d look weird with hair.
Although the downside to this is that you’re locked into looking the same way for the rest of your life. As the majority of men never use make-up, and we can never get away with going into town wearing a wig like women can, the only thing that men can do to change the way they look is to have a haircut. That option’s not open to me any more, which is a downer. Yeah, I could grow a beard, but it it’s an obvious over-compensating manoeuvre that fools no-one. Consequently…
12. You feel the need to tell every man to do as much mad shit with their hair as possible.
Not because it’s better. Just because you can.