The hidden perks of baldness

Premature baldness runs in my family.

My grandfather hasn’t had a strand of hair on his head since probably his 35th birthday, and my dad wasn’t far behind. When I was in third grade, I drew a picture of my father with hair shaped sort of like a fleur-de-lis, with three distinct lobes representing his rapidly receding hairline. (Soon after, all trace of any kind of hairline disappeared entirely, replaced by a shiny, smooth dome that looks strangely handsome on him, like a younger, even more badass Bruce Willis.) Even my younger brother, whose determined locks are still hanging on for now, is constantly stressed he’ll be the next Hairless Heir to the family name.

But the joke’s on him, because I have usurped the throne.

I am now, without question, the baldest one in the family. When selecting emojis to represent myself in text message vignettes, I am now forced to pick the old, bald man over the brunette in pink in order to remain most truthful to my current appearance. I’m not entirely hairless; I look a bit like a featherless baby bird, with weird fuzz sticking up in odd places, barely clinging on to my Casper-white skull. But being bald, or nearly so, isn’t all bad! In fact, I’ve found a number of silver linings to my new condition.

1. My shower time has been reduced by 75%.

I used to spend at least, at least, 30 minutes in the shower each morning, shampooing my hair twice and standing under the faucet singing horribly off-tune country music into the hairbrush while I waited for the conditioner to work its magic. These days, I’m stumped as to what to do with myself after about a minute and thirty seconds. Before I went bald, I never realized how much of my shower time was devoted solely to hair. If I wasn’t washing the hair on my head, I was shaving the hair on my legs or plucking the hair in my eyebrows. Since I no longer have to do any of those things, I can now devote a far larger portion of my shower time to torturing everyone with my singing voice. You’re all welcome.

2. I’m reducing noise pollution.

I literally don’t know where my blowdryer is.

3. I can pack far more lightly.

Time to pack for a trip? Hold up, just let me allot a good square foot of space and at least seven pounds of my luggage quota to my blowdryer, flat iron, round brush, curling iron, hairspray, headbands, ponytail holders, comb and shine serum. No longer, my friends! I can now pack two extra pairs of shoes, a whole ‘nother pair of jeans, a special dress and yet another sweater just in case there’s some weird chill on our tropical vacay in the space that I used to dedicate solely to hair products. In fact, packing for St. Louis, I found myself with UNUSED SPACE in my luggage for the first time in my memory. (I wasn’t bald yet, but my pixie didn’t require as much attention as my old, cascading locks did.) So this is what it’s like when Gordie packs to come visit me.

4. I look like a diva.

There’s something about a wig that’s just so much more polished and voluminous and shiny than my real hair. The curls always stay put, bobby pins don’t get lost in the Bermuda Triangle between my left ear, the nape of my neck and the crown of my head, and it feels amazing to stand in front of the mirror and go from Wallace Shawn to Beyonce in two seconds flat.

5. Beanies are cozy.

Beanies just feel good on my head, y’all. It’s like letting your scalp sit in front of the fireplace with some hot cocoa and a warm blankie. By the way, you know when you go to the hairdresser and she washes your hair and spends like, way, way too short of a time scratching your scalp with her fingernails and it feels like you’ve died and gone to heaven? Every time someone touches my head, it feels like that now. It’s ecstasy. I would honestly consider re-shaving my head just to enjoy more headrubs. I am like the second, weirdly talkative dog my parents didn’t ask for, just wandering around hoping someone is going to start touching my head.

So do I recommend shaving your head? Yes. 10/10, would shave again. In a weird way, I’m incredibly thankful for the experience. I have an entirely new level of empathy for people who are visibly different now, people who suffer from disabilities or deformities or just oddities that attract attention wherever they go. I understand what it’s like to go somewhere and get stares, to wear your condition on your sleeve (or your head) and be forced to acknowledge that you can no longer hide from what’s clear to strangers and loved ones alike. The experience of being a Cancer Patient – or any other kind of visible Patient – is different for everyone, I’m sure; but as far as I’m concerned, I hope it’s made me a better person.

But for all of the wisdom, and two-minute showers, and time I’ve spent looking in the bathroom mirror pretending I’m RuPaul, I’m still looking forward to getting my real hair back.

I’m sure my blowdryer is around here somewhere.

10 thoughts on “The hidden perks of baldness

  1. Michelle – You never cease to amaze me with your brilliance. How rare it is to see someone from, say, California, i.e., Not The South, who can put the apostrophe in “y’all” in the correct place. Kudos! (And cheers for all the other stuff, too, of course. Can’t wait to see you next month.) – rtw

    • Michelle says:

      Haha, well, I’ve learned my Southern English from the best! Thank you for the kind words. I’m so excited to come back next month – I will get you the details as soon as I have them!

  2. Fire Penguin says:

    Excellent reference to Wallace Shawn, by the way.

  3. Gordie says:

    I decided to Google ” the hidden perks of baldness ” to see if there were other hidden perks you could be taking full advantage of.

    So – did you know there is a restaurant in Tulsa that has Bald Tuesdays? Well, another a hidden perk 🙂 I’m sure there are other funny ones too.

  4. So here’s the thing, here I was reveling around in my magnificence. Thinking I had it tough struggling to maintain working full-time, a full course load, and being a mother of a toddler, and here you come along with your amazing cancer story. Suddenly I feel like such an underachiever.

    Seriously though, I just stumbled upon your site from the post your cousin Devon sent out on her blog (I’m a fellow blogger 🙂 and literally read through your entire blog in a day. I laughed with you. I cried with you. I got mad at stupid cancer with you. I even checked my closet to ensure that I had some type of outfit with sequins on it. And then decided that perhaps I should get some type of sequined outfit for my daughter. Which led to an impromptu trip to the mall. But, you get what I’m saying.

    You my dear, are a class act. Know that the rest of your readers/lurkers are praying, hoping and wishing for the best for you. I know without ever having met you that you’ve got what it takes to show that stupid cancer it messed with the wrong woman!

    -Reese

  5. I know that what you post on this blog must be therapeutic for you, but I hope you know it brings a great deal of light and eye-opening to me. And I can’t possibly be the only one!

    Rock on, girl!

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