An Essay on Hair

What was once your proudest possession is now withering. Every man has a secret love for his hair, feels it as part of his indispensable womanliness. In youth he combs it the way a woman puts on a new dress, or carefully makes a bed in the morning. Stroking his hair is like feeling his own sleek erection.

But when a man starts losing his hair, he feels his powers begin to waver. And the more he loses, the deeper he understands that time exists. Each day, his inner self cries out to be set free. Losing his hair, a man begins to get frightened, and the angrier he becomes at his own boyishness. The more he loses, the deeper he must go into his own inner woman to find strength, and the more attached he becomes to the soft fragrant flesh of his wife’s breasts.

Slowly, with each combful of fallen hair, a growing desire possesses him to invent something, like a new mathematical formula, or a new household appliance. Suddenly he feels himself drawn to and fascinated by powerful animals, and dreams at night of the extinct woolly mammoth. And the more he loses, the more he begins remembering unimportant dates like the last time it rained or the day he bought his last new car.

It is mysterious, this falling out of the hair. The more it falls, the easier it is for a man to agree to go to war or die in an automobile accident. And the more it falls out, the more real his sexual fantasies become, and the more willing he becomes to ask his wife point blank for sex. And the more it falls out, the safer he feels doing something dishonest like taking a bribe or cheating on his wife.  And each day the thought “waste no more time” repeats itself over and over, and he is reminded of the fact that it’s now twenty or thirty years since he promised himself he would give up masturbation.

But worst of all, the more hair a man loses, the more serious he becomes about his life, and he begins wondering what people are thinking of him, especially receptionists and stewardesses. And the more hair he loses, the more solemnly he goes about buying things like a new pair of shoes or a new snow shovel. And death seems more real to him now. Death that comes as a smiling bald man who scatters loose hair from a pouch like a grim Johnny Appleseed: black hair, blond hair, brown hair, red hair. Tossing up into the wind strands of all the lost hair of all the bald men who have ever lived: long Neanderthal hair and Cro-Magnon hair; long smooth Indian hair and curly African hair. Hair of chiefs and hair of slaves. Ringlets of Romans and Greeks, and the locks of 18th Century British scholars. And he shakes with terror as the bald reaper grins his bald smile and he recognizes strands of his own hair flying up out of Death’s hand and a loud peal of bald laughter echoes through the night . . . . But worst of all, the more a man loses, the more he recognizes the need for pure solitude, but instead ends up watching a lot of television, and running his fingers again and again though his imaginary hair.