The other day I calculated how much money I spend every month in desperately trying to retain a full head of hair. I was horrified. I could pay off a small Japanese car with the cash my scalp follicles require to stay virile.
I had to question why I place so much value in this scruffy mane. Am I so very vain that I’ve lost sight of real priorities – like giving the money to a worthy charity, or…uhh… buying tickets to see Madonna perform in London? Well, apparently it seems I am and I have.
I’d never worked out the cost of my scalp therapy before; probably because, as I’ve come to learn, denial is an effective and highly recommended state in which to exist. The whole thing has also crept up on me over the years.
It all started with a noticeable widow’s peak in my late twenties. I was advised by all who irritatingly pointed out my hair loss that the sooner I tackle the problem the better. My doctor, at my urging, prescribed a drug originally created to help with prostrate problems and subsequently found to prevent hair loss. I’ve been on the stuff for over five years.
Ironically, one of the possible side effects is a decrease in sex drive. (Testosterone giveth and testosterone taketh away, it seems.) I always figured that it was worth the risk; after all, how much nookie would I get as a bald man anyway? This is one of those questions, by the way, which I hope to never be in a position to answer. I’m aiming to go into the grave with a much damn hair as I and, of course, medical science can squeeze out of my head. In any case, my ex always complained that I was over-sexed.
This regime sets me back a few hundred bucks a month. I take a quarter of a pill every night after I brush my teeth. It’s become just another habit in maintaining this oh-so-demanding and ever-crumbling body.
Recently I became concerned (or rather paranoid) that my hair was again planning a policy of advanced collective suicide. Whether this was the result of the pills starting to lose their efficacy or of a follicle dysmorphic disorder of some kind, I wasn’t sure. But hell, I wasn’t taking any chances. Action was needed.
So what’s a boy to do? Shave it all off? Give in to the inevitable and age as nature intended me to?
It’s amazing what a little desperation will do. After years of bruhing off my hairdresser’s recommendation that I try her very expensive anti hair-thinning shampoo as mere quackery and profiteering, I found myself sheepishly approaching her hat in hand. (Or should that be cash in hand?) I left the salon with a handy starter pack and a lovely funky packet in which to carry it all. I felt good: one always does when under the delusion of taking control of one’s life.
The label states confidently that, “9 out of 10 people perceive a thickening effect: Customer perception based upon usage of entire thinning hair system.” Perception? That’s the best that they can offer? Perception doesn’t come cheap it seems. (I’d hate to know how much “reality” will cost me.)
The “thinning hair system” consists of a shampoo, a conditioner that feels like you’ve smeared habanero chilies into your scalp, followed by a foamy product that you also rub onto your head. The sharp clinical smell reminds me of my dentist’s surgery.
Throw in the few hundred Rand that these miracles of modern chemistry set me back every month, together with the bill for the prostate pills, and I could indeed have another nippy little runabout in the garage.
Of course none of these remedies are in any way a “cure”. Even if they do actually work, you’re enslaved for life. As soon as you stop, it all starts falling out. In the shower, on your pillow, or in the middle of a date.
So what’s a boy to do? Shave it all off? Give in to the inevitable and age as nature intended me to? Hell no! Our species has gotten where it has over the last 10 000 years by giving nature the finger. Don’t have wings to fly with? Well, we’ll make us some jet planes. Can’t outrun a cheetah? Then build a bloody Ferrari already!
In the great tradition of brave adventurers and pioneers, I am in my own small way advancing the cause of the species. And while nature always wins out in the end (in-coffin decomposition gives new meaning to the term “bad hair day”), it’s in our very genes to fight the good fight. I have given myself over to follicular science; I’m a guinea pig for the benefit of all men who, now and in the future, will cry out into cruel nature’s dark maw: “I will keep my hair dammit, no matter the cost!”