Monday, December 8, 2008

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

"The only cure for vanity is laughter, and the only fault that is laughable is vanity."
Henri Bergson

November 14, 2008, New York City:

Wishful Thinking

Until very recently, just last week in fact, I thought I was immortal.

Well, perhaps I didn’t feel I could beat death, but rather, somehow, often hubris got the best of me and I felt that I aged better—less rapidly—than others.

Thus, until now, I mocked my mortality.

Any time that I noticed a sign that my years were numbered—a grey hair, ailing bones, tired muscles, weight gain due to ABD, withering eyesight—I merely accepted the inevitable and laughed my worries away.

That is, until now.

For last week I nonchalantly and naively went to get a haircut.

I thought nothing of it. I had a very long day ahead of me for I was managing both a 4-hour senior managers meeting for 80 people in the morning and our department’s annual holiday party for 400 people at night, so I got up at 5 and was at the barber shop by 7.

I told him, “Just give me a trim.” I didn’t need to say much more because Edie, a Russian Jew from Israel, had been cutting my hair for almost nine years now, the same amount of time I’d been working at the Company right around the corner.

Together we’ve been through two divorces, a second marriage, and four kids.

After he held up the mirror to show me how the back looked, I smiled and asked him to give me some hair gel.

He immediately responded, “No, no leave it like it is, your hair is getting thinner.”

“…my hair is getting thinner?” I thought to myself, both momentarily shocked and immediately thrown into a vertigo-of-explanation.

“What do you mean, my hair’s getting thinner? Really, my hair’s getting thinner?” I asked. And after spinning woozily through all the possible explanations—I didn't gel it this morning, knowing I was getting it cut, so it felt soft to him; I've been using a lot more conditioner lately, thus its lithe texture; it hadn't been too long since I got my last haircut—I finally accepted that my barber, the guy who knows my hair better than anyone in the world, was telling me my hair’s getting thinner.

He knew I was suddenly taken aback and somewhat in shock and tried to console me by lying, “Yeah, yeah, you know the gel can do that to your hair.”

I wasn’t satisfied by his ruse though and probed, to my dissatisfaction, even further. “Really, my hair’s getting thinner?” I grimaced, dazed and confused.

Tight-lipped, he raised his brow and conceded, “Yeah, it is getting thinner on top.”

Handing him his money, I smirked back and tried not to blame the messenger .


The rest of the day I worked literally nonstop from 7:30 AM until 9 PM, so that I had little-to-no time to ponder this startling revelation.

For the most part I shrugged it off, half in disbelief, half banking on 40 years of good looks and being told I had great hair.

I’ve been told numerous times by barbers and girlfriends alike, “Mexicans have great hair.” And they do. And I am.

But what I’m not, apparently, is immortal. Because, just like everyone else, Mexicans lose their hair too.

Thus on Saturday evening, when Chelsea and I were attending Anna’s art opening with the kids, I told Enzo that he must milk the recent compliments about his golden locks of curly jet black hair while he can.

Apparently, since his mother finally conceded to my pleading to let his hair grow out, women now constantly tell him, “I love your hair!”

Enzo received one such compliment after I introduced him to Sharon at the opening. His reaction was a nonchalant and unamused “Thanks,” walking away as if he had heard those same words a million times before.


Apart from this moment of paternal wit, I had successfully ignored the issue for a couple of days, focusing more on the shock of hair, a goatee, that I was growing and grooming on my chinny-chin-chin, than that which apparently had stopped growing atop my head.

That is, until later that same Saturday night.

Chelsea and I had just left the kids behind with the babysitter and we were walking briskly across 62nd Street to the Empire Hotel for Jennifer’s birthday party. It was snowing and bitter cold, so to warm us up I decided to share the funny anecdote about how Sweeny Todd, the demon barber of 28th Street, had told me my hair’s getting thinner.

I fully expected Chelsea to simply laugh with me as I mockingly made fun of my age, my diminishing sense of manhood, and my realization that I was on a journey of no return, but instead she said, “Yeah, that’s one of the first things I noticed about you when we started dating (a year ago).”

“What?,” I reacted, startled more than ever.

“You must be kidding,” I honestly questioned in disbelief.

“No, you're losing hair on the top of your head,” she said, without a losing a beat, without any thought that I might not handle this news very well.

“There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of a rough truth” Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Thus, once again, within a matter of days, I was injected with a painful dose of reality—as wise as I may be, the price is determined by the rising costs of age; no comps or free passes here, no Pass Go and Collect $200, no exceptions to the rule this time.

Thus, for the rest of the night I had to allay my growing fears with self-deprecating humor.

Thus, began my obsession in earnest.

Thus, I had to come to terms with my hair-o-noia, the fact that my hair is thinning—i.e. it is falling out, I am going bald, I am getting older, and I’m not half the man that I used to be.


I kind of wish that I had learned this lesson before I blew out my candles a few weeks before for my 41st birthday.

Alas, that is only wishful thinking.

Nonetheless and allthemore, I think I’m over my crisis now. Writing about it has always been a great and reliable catharsis for me.

Besides, I have much to grateful for and a gradual loss of hair should be the least of my worries. For there are many-many-millions of people out there without jobs, without homes and without any hair right now.

Moreover, Chelsea said she’d still love me no matter what, with or without hair. So, I’ve got that going for me.

I love you too Chelsea.


“The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.” Thomas Wolfe

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It’s Not Easy Being a Baldwin…(I’ve got ABD)
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The Exuberance of Enervation
I am beginning…
But a Number
Aging and Anonymity
It was a good 40 years
Almost 40


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1 comment:

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