No matter how you look at it, the only solution to baldness is hair.
That’s what I keep telling my wife Marilyn these days, because recently she came under the auspices of modern medicine and overnight lapsed into what’s known in medical circles as the Michael Jordan Syndrome, or “Slickem Skullatus.”
You see, Marilyn went bald when she came down with an illness calling for weekly ingesting of industrial waste labeled “chemotherapy.” With tom-toms beating in the background and a rattling of gourds filled with bones and corn seed, she undergoes this procedure each week, the result being a seven-day hangover without the fun of a night before.
Her doctor keeps telling her, “I think we’re getting ahead,” to which she replies, “Can’t you think of some other expression?”
But while one of the byproducts of chemotherapy may be the loss of hair, imagine what happens when I wake up in the middle of the night and glance over at this baldheaded person sleeping next to me.
“What’s the matter?”
“Oh, sorry. I thought it was someone else.”
“Who, Yule Brynner?”
“No, I, uh, your hair, uh, it’s just…”
“Oh, calm down. Now you know what I experienced years ago when I looked at you in the middle of the night.”
What Marilyn refers to is the fact that I too am a victim of “Slickem Skullatus,” which has nothing to do with chemotherapy, just bad family genes. I noticed it first when I was very young and overheard my football coach say, “Where’s that old man — Pops. I can’t find him with his helmet on.”
That’s what everyone called me — “Pops.” While my fellow athletes received varsity letters at the end of season, they gave me a cane and an invitation to join Rotary Club.
Later, when I ran into someone I haven’t seen in 50 years, they always said, “By golly, you haven’t changed a bit,” which really meant when I was 20, I looked like I was 70. They always topped it off, so to speak, with, “Yep, still smooth as a baby’s bottom.”
But the truth is there’s an air of unfairness connected to Marilyn’s baldness when you compare it to my affliction. In the first place her hair will grow back as soon as she gets off the miracle drugs. Secondly, no one makes fun of a bald woman. That’s reserved for men:
No one ever tells a woman, “Hey, Slick, buy me a beer.” Or, “Every time I see you, your face gets bigger.” Or, “That’s a heckova part you got there.” Or, “When did you decide to grow your hair upside down?”
When I complain about it, Marilyn says, “You’re feeling sorry for yourself again.”
“I suppose,” I say, “but I deserve it. It’s so unfair.”
Still, I feel for Marilyn’s plight, but not much, because she’s allowed to spend all her butter and egg money on hats, wigs, bonnets, and scarves, while I have to live openly, with only skimpy baseball caps to disguise my difficulty. It gets embarrassing to wear a ball cap to a private supper with someone important, especially if your hat says, “Earl’s Auto Repair and Fast Psychiatry Shop.”
And no one tells Marilyn she’s pretentious if she wears a wig. In fact, she’s expected to disguise her temporary slickdom. Women are supposed to be vain.
Bald men, on the other hand, have to cry themselves to sleep at night and wish for the good old days when gentry wouldn’t have been caught dead outdoors without a powdered wig. A little snuff didn’t hurt either.
But I’m getting used to Marilyn’s plight these days, as she got used to mine years ago. I don’t even flinch anymore when she comes sashaying out for breakfast in her naked skull. I just say, “Hi, Bill.”
She looks at me and shakes her nude head. “How many times do I have to say it — don’t wear my wigs to breakfast? You can have them when my hair grows back.”
Now I ask you, where can you find charity like that?
Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales.