New Hope for Bald Men
Balding Breakthrough: A Cure to Male Balding in 10 Years?
Bald Men Rejoice at Scientific Advance
Bald Men Halt Suicide Attempts at Rumor of Hair Loss Cure
"Perhaps My Life Will Have Meaning Again" Says Sad Bald Man
I first saw the story here, in a video report by the luxuriously maned George Stephanopoulos on abcnews.com. "Help may be on the way for men suffering from hair loss," was the way George opened the segment. Yes. Help is on the way. Galloping on a big hairy white horse to save men collapsing in the street from the shame of having thinning hair.
I had a hard time concentrating on the story itself, being distracted by the gorgeous luster of George's own hair, thick enough to lose a quarter in. (What a clever idea those segment producers had, having the story covered by a guy whose hairline comes down to his eyebrows. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Good one.) But the basic gist was this: scientists have made some discoveries regarding the nature of stem cells in your scalp. Essentially, the main stem cell thought to be responsible for male pattern balding is actually not the cell they thought it was. There’s a second stem cell that makes your hair fall out. And if those secondary cells can be spanked on the ass and woken up, men may be able to grow hair again, an option that had never seemed possible before.
Story of the Decade.
I've spent a significant amount of time making my peace with my hair loss. I've written at least one post about this before, but what with this new "breakthrough" and all, I started reflecting again on... well, how my head reflects. Light, that is.
When I was young, I had great hair. Here's my senior picture from high school:
I know. You don't have to say it. I had Awesome hair. It took a lot of product to get that high-gloss look.
I first discovered I was losing it on my honeymoon with Saucy, actually. Almost eleven years ago. The bathroom at our romantic Kauai cottage had two mirrors that faced each other, and I happened to catch the back of my head in one reflection. I was shocked to see it; a thin crop circle in the back of my head. I never mentioned it to Saucy, but I did think, Thank God we got married when we did. If we'd waited a couple years, after this little spot became more pronounced, who knows if the woman would've met me at the altar.
I'm not saying she's that shallow. That's just where my thoughts were back then.
Back then, I did investigate a couple hair loss remedies. But that phase of denial didn't last more than a few months. I tried Rogaine for a few weeks, but it was expensive and a pain in the ass. Trying Rogaine was actually a good way for me to come to terms with the whole thing: I realized that even though losing my hair would be a bummer, I didn't care about it enough to commit to rubbing weird-smelling chemical foam into my scalp twice a day. That was an important conclusion to reach.
(There was a brief period where I acted on the advice of a hair stylist who told me that rubbing the juice from chili peppers into your head stimulated hair follicles and help with hair growth... but we shan't speak of that. I'll just let you imagine your pal the pirate standing in his bathroom, rubbing a sliced pepper on his head, and then sticking his head in the sink to wash off the incredibly painful burning sensation as quickly as possible.)
I hung in there for a while, trying to hold onto the diminishing hair I had left, ignoring the chill I felt on the back of my head when the wind blew. I focused on the front view--if you stood in front of me, you wouldn't have known that in two years, my bald head would be able to be seen from space.
Then the Mini-Pirate was born in 2001, and the rest of my hair fell out in a month. I'm saying. Her fault. The stress of fatherhood. None of this "blame the men on your mother's side of the family" bullshit. I blamed my daughter completely for the speed of my hair loss.
And now? When I shave my face and head on the same day, I look like this:
My head is now a giant thumb.
And the fact is that now, today, at 40, I'm finally ok with it. I joke about it a lot with friends, having turned self-deprecation into an art form, since I had no choice. That Head-as-Thumb joke is big hit at parties. When I make it, someone inevitably says, "But you can pull off a bald head! Not all men can. It looks good on you." And I appreciate that, even though I know it's not true. See, that's what every single person says to every guy who shaves his head as a last resort to hair loss. But it's ok. It turns out that I function pretty well with less vanity. I'm probably better off that way. Vanity tripped me up a lot when I was younger.
Having a streamlined head is simple and easy. Plus, I save a lot of money now that I no longer have to buy kiwi-infused conditioner. Saucy continues to tell me that she likes me fine without hair. I have several friends who like to rub my head for luck. So all is good, all is healthy.
But hey! Wait! Hold on a minute! Scientists have made an "astonishing new breakthrough that could lead to a cure for men afflicted with hair loss!" There's hope!!!!!
Hmm. You know what, Scientist Guys?
You too, Stephanopoulos.