Hair suit, or not?

On the mysterious hibernations and migrations of the hair

“A narcissist is someone better-looking than you are.” (Gore Vidal)

“Pay attention to your hair – because everyone else will.” (Hillary Clinton addressing Yale graduates)

Peter Warland

A couple of years ago I was forced by other people’s sarcasm to go downtown to have my hair cut. After a long session of smutty jokes and golfing stories, the barber chopped away. However, when I stood up and got myself brushed off, I noted that the proprietor of the establishment had managed to strew grey hair all around where I’d been sitting. This was a great shock to me. Afterwards, I began to find actual ‘silver threads among the gold’.

But I still have hair; I obviously inherited this trait from my father, who showed no signs of baldness, even after bringing up me and my awful sister.

Of course, I started out well. It seems that the nurses at the hospital where I was brought into this uncaring world called me Tarzan; I was apparently hirsute, all over.

As a small boy, I grew less hair but much spikier. It just wouldn’t slick down, even under a confining school-boy cap. My uncle Charlie frequently threatened to flatten it with a bottle.

After my stint in the Royal Air Force, where I was cajoled and threatened into keeping my locks short and tidy, I set off into ‘civvy street’ with the intention of growing my hair long, down to my shoulders if possible. It didn’t work; I must have had a hair strike, so I gave up that nonsense. Even if I had struggled for another twenty years, I would never have been able to look like a true hippie.

But I have been doing some research into the grey matter that spouts above my minimal grey matter.

For instance, I read that, on my own knobbly ‘bonce’, each hair used to grow continuously for three to five years and then quit. Fascinating! Some of my hairs obviously survived the predations of those thick-headed sergeants in the R.A.F. “Am I hurting you, son? I should be; I’m standing on your hair.”

After about three months of resting, the individual hair falls out and then a new one starts up. Someone forgot to remind my hair recently. I think there’s some hibernation going on; maybe it’ll start up again when the bears emerge because, according to what I’ve been reading, 90 per cent of the hair on a human scalp is supposed to be always in the growing stage. Ha!

Hair grows faster when the grower is in love. On the chin and in the ears too?

My research also informed me that beards grow faster on men’s faces than on their heads. This is encouraged by all the razor salespeople because, if left alone, the beard will grow about 14 centimetres a year, except in the U.S., where it can make about five and a half old-fashioned inches.

There seems to be no record of how fast women’s beards grow. Maybe this is a taboo subject although a person can have a T.V. movie ruined with ads aimed at the fair sex for scientific hair removal machinery.

Goose-bumps are the result of a person’s body desperately attempting to pull the body hair upright for insulation against the cold. I love to experiment so I ventured outside this past winter in my swim-suit —not a pretty sight, according to my over-sensitive neighbours — but, apparently, after a brilliant start as a baby, I no longer have enough body hair to do the job.

However, looking fearfully into the mirror these days reminds me of those hopeless horror movies of yesteryear — Boris Karloff! Bah! Nonsense! Watching the growth of my eyebrows, nose hairs and ear hairs makes me think I might be turning into a werewolf or that I am going to die as hirsute as I was when I came screaming into this world.

But then, I did meet a charming psychiatric nurse recently and, although she did look at me somewhat askance up in those hills, she didn’t seem to be too worried about the state of my mind  — as yet.