- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

all forked up

Yes, I am admitting it to the world.

I have used a plastic fork on myself and

met with great measure of styling success.

In frantic moments before the

onslaught of ceaseless meetings where

personal grooming might just win

the day, and finding that in the Bumsteadian

morning rush out the door to

the bus, that the comb never quite made

its usual transition from the dust-

draped 'fridge-top to my too-tight rear

pocket, I have made "do" running

the tines of a common white plasti-pak

salad fork through my sparse scalp

to coif my 'do (or 'don't, as reality

would have it).

And you know what? Thinning dads who

fork themselves can be pretty stylin'.

For there must be no more shame for we

dads of the world who are follicly

challenged. We do NOT have flesh-colored

hair. It is NOT a chrome-

dome, or a billiard-ball, or any similar

half-baked allusion.

It is NOT a solar collector

for a sex machine.

Quite simply put, we are baldy-boys.

For some of us it happens all at once.

These are the sad dads, who once

proudly flipped and fashioned manly,

manely tresses of locks away from

our eyes (greasers) or down into our eyes

(mods or collegiates), now

literally "stranded" by some malevolent

genetic timebomb, shedding

wafting tufts that alight on pillows,

that gather in bristle brushes, that clog

the shower drain.

There are the mad dads who rage against

their hairless fate, begging

rogaine prescription after prescription

like a methadone-mad junkie. These

are the guys who grow the fuzz-head

thing that looks like that

gawd-awful spray-on can-o-curls, a product

that in itself is a grim

Halloween-like mockery of our hairy glory

days. These are the guys who

undergo painful transplants, or weaves,

and wind up looking either like

Hellraiser or the twisted product of an

Amish quilting bee gone terribly,

terribly wrong.

For the rest of us, it is a long, long road

of steady and lachrymose loss.

One of the manly myths out there has

something to do with your mom's

dad's hair (your maternal grandhair,

if you will). If gran-paw had it, then

surely you will as well. This, in my case,

turned out to be the cruelest of

hogwash, for surely, if exhumed, his

massive patch of Hungarian thatch would mock me

from beyond the very grave.

For this dad, it started ending as

a mere teen. Not allowed to grow it until

age 15, I made the horrifying discovery

that it was already too late. By then

it was leaving me with ghastly regularity.

So I --quick!-- grew the back-n-sides

long as I could only to discover a rebellious

wave brought the left side up

and the right side down, leaving my 'do

looking like BOTH Patty and Kathy Duke's.

Solution #1: slather the scalp with

Dippity-do gel, don a stocking cap, and

sleep while you style. Predictably, the

next morning the wave is gone, but

the rest of the 'do is a rock-solid mass,

all of which moves together in the

direction of any single disturbed follicle.

Solution #2: Niagara spray-starch and an

iron cranked to the "cotton"

setting. Straightens it real good, though

the scalp burns sting like the dickens.

Years of expensive hair stylings followed,

paying big big money for

patronizing stylists who would talk their

ceaseless talk and snip snip snip

just long enough to make it feel

as if I was getting my money's

worth, despite the fact that a five minute

once-around would probably do

me for months. The onslaught of children

also needing pricey boutique

cuts in shops looking more like

Storybook Forest than Joe-da-Barber's

was the final financial reckoning.

The coupon in the junk mailer

promised an adult cut

in one of them-thar franchise joints

would cost me only five Samoleans. It

didn't also promise the dearth of estrogen-deprived

barrel-chested barrel-waisted tattoo mama

"stylists" waiting there, razors at the

ready, to take it down "to the wood."

This, as it turns out, is an unadvertised bonus.

Five minutes and you're out, neck shaved red

with tales of the Appalachian hills to tell.

Now, I can walk the proud walk,

strands coifed to forky perfection,

into any stodgy old meeting

room, the glare from the punishing

fluorescents bouncing off my noggin'

like the Cape Hatteras beacon. I can coif

vicariously through my son's

bushy mane, inherited from

paternal-maternal-great-grandhair, no doubt.

For this baldy, it's on to the next hairy Bardo,

and this is the scariest hair

fright of them all for us dads

on the darkest side of our thirties.

That, of course, is the sudden,

unwelcome and inexplicable

gene that flips on the disgusting mechanism

that finally grows hair for the hairless.

Except THIS hair is the surprise

Rapunzel-like growth of unwanted cilia

emanating from our poor,

poor, dadly noses and ears, my dears.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs

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