Archived Story

On being bald

Published 10:14am Thursday, March 20, 2014

Charles is bald. It’s not the proud and beautiful bald like Mr. Clean, Michael Jordan, or Yule Brynner. It’s the unpleasant and unattractive bald like the mange, open pit mining, or the first look in the mirror after a five dollar haircut.

It is the type of bald that has left the top of Charles’s head devoid of follicles, except for an island of stubble that staunchly and stubbornly clings to the center of his elongated forehead. All that remains is a withering tress oasis in the center of a spreading scalp desert.

Charles’s once proud, Nordic red, wavy mane has made an unruly retreat, to a point roughly aligned with the middle of his ears.

The good news is the few hair raising places, remaining on Charles’ body, have gone into over-drive. The unkempt arc of mud-orange frizz, occupying a small space at the back of his head has spread down his neck, and merged with the rust toned pelt on his back.

What Charles lacks at the top of his head has found other, less desirable, places to manifest itself, including his ears and nostrils.

Charles is not oblivious to his deforested visage. Early on in his struggle against follicle shortfall, he practiced the ill-advised comb over routine. It was a vain and unsuccessful attempt to conceal the truth — which everyone else had known for years. It was a ridiculously long, dual winged, mane stretch. It travelled up each side of his head, entangled at the apex, and then merged with the handful of rogue, follicle resistance fighters that were still holding the fort in the middle of Charles’ forehead. Add in his freckled complexion, and Charles’ head looked like an Easter basket, carrying one large speckled egg.

In a desperate attempt to make lemonade out of lemons, Charles shaved his head. His hope was to rise from the level of bald and scruffy to the venerable status of clean and glossy. He shaved it as smooth as a polished spittoon, except for the nicks, scratches, and Band-Aids. However, with the over abundance of chest, back, and neck hairs sticking out from the collar of Charles’ white T- shirt, he resembled less of a Mister Clean and more of a Petoskey stone wearing a fur coallar.

Charles considered getting a hair piece, hair plugs, or a gimmick he saw on a late night, television infomercial. With a toupee, everyone that already knows him will know it is a rug. With hair plugs, he feared the transplants would take, but the few remaining hairs on the back of his head would continue to escape, leaving him with a fur yarmulke. The late night infomercial gimmick involved sticking his head through a hole in a piece of cardboard and spraying the protruding scalp with a fuzzy, orange paint. That was just a stupid idea.

Ultimately, Charles decided to embrace his baldness. He, now, keeps his remaining fuzz regularly trimmed short. This approach is low maintenance, inconspicuous, and allows him to comb his hair with a damp wash cloth.

He did make one purchase from a late night infomercial: a devise that trims ear and nose hairs.


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at


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