A few days ago, I shaved my head.
Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I had my head shaved. In a pub. In front of a happy and drunken crowd. With a Celtic band playing a merry tune while the barber sheered me like a sheep. All in all, I’d have to call the evening a success, because if you’re going to go out and have a few drinks and do something inadvisable, it’s surely better to be compared to a sheep than to wake up next to one.
But okay, if you must know, the experience was not at all like getting wasted and waking up with a new tattoo… though a few of the participants were just sauced enough that it made me wonder whether they’d wake up the next morning wondering what exactly happened to all their hair. What we were actually doing was a fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing research into pediatric cancers. The rather novel approach that St. Baldrick’s takes is to have people raise money by pledging to shave their heads in solidarity with cancer patients. And for reasons that do not need exploring at this juncture, their events tend to be staged in Irish pubs, which frankly I think is genius. I also chose to donate my hair to an organization that will turn it into a wig for someone who needs it. All in all, it was a win-win. I got to help a couple of good causes, have few drinks, and enjoy the fellowship of other people who think that getting shaved in public constitutes a good time.
In the run up to the big event, people kept asking me if I was nervous or if I’d changed my mind. Even our fabulous barber — Robert from Euphoria Salon in Durango — asked me if I was sure before he started cutting.
I was sure. I was pretty sure I was going to have a really silly-looking bald head, but I was also quite sure all that hair would grow back again. I was ready to join the ranks of the bald and beautiful. My friends online and off had pledged a staggering $1,323 to see the deed done. And sure, most of the bald-and-beautiful people who came to mind were guys, like Patrick Stewart and Hugh Dillon, but Sinead O’Connor and Demi Moore had certainly proved that women could pull off the look, too. Plus, once I was bald, there would be a new kinship between us. I would be initiated into a sacred society: a society of increased light refraction and a yearning for warm hats.
The obvious next step would be me and Hugh Dillon — because since we’re both bald, we’re totally tight now — forming a bald-headed detective agency and fighting crime together.
But failing that, I knew I’d at least get an evening’s entertainment out of it, and anyway I’d been reliably informed that if I went to this pub I’d be able to get a shepherd’s pie (and it was delicious, by the way). I was committed. And I haven’t regretted it. I watched a steady stream of brave souls — some with more hair to lose than others — take their turn in the chair, and it was crowded enough that you practically had to fight for your chance to be shaved. There were people getting shaved who’d only just signed up on the spot. It was a madhouse of the best kind. I finally got my turn in the chair and Patrick Crossing played on in the background like I had my own personal theme music while Robert took the clippers to my head. And when it was all over, I didn’t feel like I’d lost anything. Together we raised $5933 for St. Baldrick’s, but just as importantly, we addressed the important problem of cranial ventilation.
I hung around and watched some more of the shavings, took a ridiculous cell phone photo of myself and sent it to some of my friends, and then facing an hour’s drive home again, I made my way back to my truck. The moon was ridiculously huge in the sky and I sang along to The Swell Season all the way home and was very bald and very happy.
Since then, I’ve learned some important things about being bald. Well, buzzed anyway. Like for instance, when you step out of the shower and the cold air hits your head it feels kind of like your entire scalp has been covered in a thin layer of Icy Hot. It’s surprisingly pleasant. Your head will be cold but you will also find it surprisingly difficult to put on a hat because suddenly your scalp is nothing but sandpaper-like friction. Also, people are going to want to touch your head. They won’t be able to help themselves. (I’m fine with it, but I do charge $1 for the experience.) And regrettably, you will not magically transform into G.I. Jane or discover your inner Spartan warrior just because you got rid of your hair, which frankly I find kind of disappointing. (I’d been standing at the mirror and practicing my “This. Is. SPARTA!” all week.)
I’ll be glad to have my long hair back… in a few years time, which is how long my hair takes to grow. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the change (I’m a changeaholic, and just shaving my head is probably an easier change to adjust to than, say, shaving my head and moving to a Tibetan monastery to find my inner zen), and I’ve got to say that I’m loving the increased airflow.
Many thanks to Sharon Tiesdell Smith for taking these fab photos of me and my new baldness! Her blog is awesome, go there and read about her adventures with her awesome horse!