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A Hairy Tale

My mind takes some strange turns now and then. This came to mind today. I say that as an explanation for what I’m about to say. It’s not a satisfying explanation, but it’s all you’re going to get.

When I was a very small child, I must have thought only old men were bald, because when I reached my late teens, I began to make a curious observation: There seemed to be a lot of younger men—younger than old, that is—losing their hair. By this time, I knew baldness was not unique to old age, but still, I thought there might be something new going on. The more I thought about it, the more I noticed it (as is often the case—we tend to see what we expect to see). I began to propose theories for the cause of this phenomenon.*


One of the more likely theories was, believe it or not, shampoo. To understand how I could come up with such a hair-brained† notion, you have to know something about the time into which I was born. In those days (late sixties, early seventies), folks didn’t routinely shower and shampoo every day. Saturday night (at least) was bath night, with other ablutions applied as necessary. On summer nights, barefoot kids would come in and wash their feet before bed, lest they soil the sheets. Besides that, a little washing up at the sink in the morning was generally sufficient. By the time I started high school, all that had changed. With the disco era, Brylcreem was out, and blow-dryers were in. If you put something in your hair, it had to look like you didn’t. Men got perms—which I thought might also be a factor—and weren’t even ashamed. All those frequent washings and hair-care products were damaging the follicles.


As theories go, I think mine was not too ridiculous. After all, there are real live grown-up adults among us who buy anthropogenic global warming, so why not? There was a probably undeniable correlation, maybe.

Then I got older and, for several years, forgot to worry about The Balding of America. (Besides, my hair wasn’t falling out, so who cares?) Then one day, for no reason I can remember, it came back to me, and I thought about it some more. Thinking it more than a little likely my theory had been somewhat silly, I looked around me, and lo and behold, what did I see? Lots of bald men, only this time, they were my age. Or, rather, this time, I was their age.

Then it dawned on me—not that men probably weren’t balding at higher rates than before, but the reason why I had thought so in the first place. And that reason will not surprise you one bit.

The “younger” men I observed in my teens were included in the group I had, as a wee lad, thought “old.” the older I got, the younger everyone else appeared. And it’s still happening.

If you’ve stayed with me this far (thanks, both of you), you deserve to know the point of this silly story (yes, I have one). And that point applies to everything we observe, whether it be hair loss in young or middle-aged men, or matters of real importance.

Perspective matters. Perspective changes everything.

* Yes, I actually spent time thinking about this, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit it. If you think that’s weird, you don’t even want to know what else is running wild inside my noggin.

† I know, it’s supposed to say “hare-brained.” I’m being clever.

Posted 2018·06·27 by David Kjos
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