A few weeks ago I turned fifty. A few days after that I shaved my head. One did not preclude the other however. This was not any sort of midlife crisis. It was pure curiosity. I have long pondered what my head looked like. I felt lumps and bumps and wondered if they were as pronounced as they felt. I decided to take the opportunity of my fiftieth birthday to find out. Only one way to do that. I have learned many things from this experience. First, I discovered that I have a rather pretty head. It is nice and round with slight symmetrical grooves down both sides of the top; I guess where my skull fused when I was a baby. I also have a pretty impressive scar on the right side from an attack by a clothesline pulley four years ago (that story for another blog post). My second observation is that my hair wasn’t the light brown I thought it was. Even as it was falling in my lap at the initial shearing, it was a dark, steel gray. When did it change color? I have no idea. I’ve kept short hair for 20+ years and used assorted styling products to spike it so it may have changed color years ago but I just never noticed it. The third thing I have learned is that, at least on my head, gray hair grows faster than the rest. It is about a quarter-inch long now but the gray hairs stick ever so slightly above the rest and sparkle in the sunlight. Fourth, my hair has grown through stages. Initially, it felt like Velcro. It was rather coarse and hard. At that point I had considered making my head “interactive” using felt pieces cut in the shape of the continents or perhaps celestial bodies. A quick game of “Pin the Continent on Monica’s Head” anyone? My hair now has the feeling of velvet. It is very soft and I find myself patting and rubbing it quite often. Others do as well. Depending on the person, I will allow this. Close friends only although strangers have presumed that they could as well. When my son was a baby, he used to fall asleep with one hand rubbing his head. I can completely understand this feeling now. It is quite relaxing. The most amazing realization I have had since embarking on this adventure is the reaction of others to it. While I did this for purely personal (and nosey) reasons, there is the expectation among some that I am making some sort of “political” statement much like Sinead O’Connor did years ago. Others have concluded that I am sick. Still others presumed that I did it for attention or that some sort of accident occurred requiring me to cut off my hair. While I appreciate people’s concern for my well-being and get amusement from the rest, it seems almost anti-climactic to admit that I just wanted to see what my head looked like. There should be a more interesting story? This, of course meets with more skepticism and even derision. I have gotten animosity from some as well. The negativity has surprised me, I must say. Why would anyone truly care about MY hair? What does it matter? It grows back. And what does it say about our expectations of “beauty” that men can shave their heads at will but woman can/should not? It is after all, MY head and MY hair. Should you find it so egregious, avert your gaze! I have no reason to stay bald. My question has been answered and frankly, maintaining a bald head when one is not genetically predisposed to it, is time consuming. I’d have to shave it every other day for the true Yul Brynner look. I’m not that ambitious. It has been very enlightening and an interesting experiment over all but now it’s done.  My hair will never be long. I don’t have the patience for that. I’m not sure what style I’ll go with now. Oh…the possibilities!

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