I’m not scared of much. Becoming homeless is high on the list. That might be the most irrationally rational fear. The rest are pretty normal: not fulfilling my potential, not contributing enough to those I love, Socialism, you know, the usual. However, I do have one admittedly irrational phobia. Balding. I’m terrified of going bald. I don’t know how I’ll look, and I don’t want to know. I try not to let it grip me with too much anxiety, but the last few mornings I’ve gotten out of the shower I haven’t been able to shake a growing suspicion my hair might be starting to disappear like IKEA employees when you need something off the top shelf. I’m worried my flow is beginning to beg the question, when does a side part become a combover?
There’s an obvious moment where one stops having a hairstyle and starts balding. I can’t tell you exactly when that moment is, but much like Justice Stewart’s famous description of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” It’s a balance, I think. The hairline must remain a certain distance away from the ears, and the coverage of hair has to stay dense enough so as to not look like grass growing out of a sandbox. My hairline’s okay, for now. I must admit my once razor like widow’s peak has eroded to the point of being more of a divorcee’s hill. It’s my coverage that worries me. I got out of the shower a few mornings ago, and when I shook my hair dry there was a concerning amount of scalp visible. Ever since then a soft voice in the back of my head wonders whether when people look at me they ask each other why I’m still hanging onto a hairstyle that isn’t there.
Every time I bring it up with someone they dismiss it. “Your hair’s fine.” “I thought it looked thicker actually.” I’d be a little more inclined to believe them if these weren’t the same people who insisted I wasn’t getting fatter. Call me a skeptic, but the pair of jeans I can’t fit in anymore casts a little doubt on those reassurances. So, despite what everyone says, I worry. I worry so much that I worry if I’m going to worry myself bald. What if baldness is like your goals and if you speak it into existence, it’ll happen? At the same time, I can’t ignore it. It’s my hair. No one else is going to fix it for me. If I want to fight off looking like Stan from Accounts Receivable I’ve got to take matters into my own hands, ignore all the suggestions of patience or waiting until a problem actually manifests, and launch a preemptive strike.
The only problem is, I don’t have the war chest necessary to fund this campaign. As aggressive as my phobia is, as certain as I am that if ignored my hair will disappear like the red panda, I can’t bring myself to burn cash on hair treatment so long as I’m still unemployed. Thus a greater urgency is ascribed to my job hunt, spurring me to an intensity so strong that if I ever do make it to an interview and they ask why I want the gig I’ll probably look the recruiter right in the eye and say “so I can afford to get my hair back.” I’m on a ticking clock, hurtling toward a point of no return to a scenario where I walk in and the interviewer recommends my application solely because he pities me and my atrocious combover, rather than recommending me because he respected my immaculate side part.
I’m not so desperate as to start trying home remedies…yet. I think I’m still good. I think, at least for now, no one’s cringing at my combover. If they are it’s at least not so obvious that anyone feels comfortable making bald jokes to my face. I don’t think I’m there, and I don’t ever want to get there. My beard is starting to salt pretty solidly, and I’d like to have a heavy enough flow up top to pair with it. So I’ll keep job hunting, looking for the position that’s going to give me enough to have a whole budget set aside for my hair, because I can’t give up. I can’t look in the mirror one morning and wonder when my side part became a combover.
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