Daze of My Life: Follicle Fallout

Daze of My Life
Follicle Fallout
by Kenneth B. Lourie

Though science was never my strong suit, even I realize that I'm not getting any younger. I thought the most obvious indication that age was not merely creeping up on me but rather moving faster than I anticipated would be seen through my eyes, as in needing glasses, to see what needed to be seen. But seeing is believing. And as of yet, I don't think I need glasses or even cheaters, as the nonprescription, magnifying-type glasses available across the counter at local drugstores are so affectionately called. Certainly I am aware of the inevitability of needing some visual aid to see "up close and far away" at some point, fairly soon in fact, given the milestone of my most recent birthday. But from what I'm seeing--and believing--in the mirror, however, is the effect age is having on my hair, not my eyes, that is mattering more.
Having inherited thick, black, curly hair from my mother, Celia, and then having had it all cut off, unexpectedly (shorn like a sheep)--I was expecting a normal bi-monthly type cut--three nights before my parents and I drove off to University of Maryland in August 1972, I have taken great pride in its color and condition ever since and have often received compliments from friends and professionals alike. And through no real effort or minimal use of creams, rinses, conditioners, moisturizers, softeners, volumizers, re-energizers, etc., I have continued to grow my mother's hair on my head, until recently, that is.
Don't get me wrong. My hair is still growing and covering my entire scalp, thank God. It's just not, how do I say this, responding. It doesn't have the same look, the same color and the same bounce-back curliness and texture that it has had since that Tuesday night (the only time when men could have appointments in the ladies salon) in Newton Highlands, when a barber I had never visited before (since my regular barber was unavailable) cut me nearly to the skull.
But all was not lost that night, other than my hair, that is. As a result of this hair cut, my hair was so short that I basically had no hair to comb or brush (which had not been my goal), so I did neither, and I went off to college looking like someone I had never seen before.
Fortunately, no other students from my high school, Newton South, were attending Maryland, so I had no change-of-appearance issues with people who knew me with my prior hair. And before too long, my hair began to curl, and since my accidental new look/haircut didn't seem to be scaring anybody, I left well enough alone. Even more miraculously, my curly hair was, given the style of the times--fashionable. And with many things in life that aren't broken, I decided to fix it, never really considering that my hair wouldn't look and feel as good for the rest of my life as it did then.
Well, 32 years later, the rest of my life is now. Though my hair is not balding or thinning or receding, for which I am extremely grateful and fortunate
(thanks to Hyman Blacker, my maternal grandfather, may he rest in peace), I still feel like I've crossed a line, a hairline, if you will. So however nascent these thoughts of mortality are--and I'm losing more hair than sleep over them, and not much of either, to tell you the truth--I can't help feeling and seeing that the end is closer than the beginning. And not because of my age or my parents' ages or my waistline or my aching back or the miscellaneous medications I take, but because my hair seems to have lost its luster.
Well, all that glitters is not gold, right? So I suppose the intelligent thing to do is realize that even though my hair today is not exactly what it was yesterday, it's my overall health that matters most, not my appearance. And all things considered, given my age, I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.