A Hairy Tale


My doctor's waiting room is filled with Roundheads. Of both genders. My doctor is an oncologist and his office dispenses chemotherapy, which usually causes hair loss, which leads patients to buzz or shave their heads.

Roundheads was a name given to supporters of Parliament in England's 17th century. Their enemies, supporters of the Crown, were called Cavaliers. The Roundheads, as the name implies, kept their hair short -- this involved only males. The Cavaliers wore it in long ringlets. Things change, and the Puritans, originally Roundheads, took to wearing long hair. And at some point in English history the names Whig and Tory took hold instead, still in use today somewhat.

I think of my own history in the US and how short hair was de rigueur for men when in the '60s, young lads let their "freak flag fly." Unlike the old Englishmen, here the rebellious youth wore their hair long, while conservatives kept it short. Eventually, many American men grew long hair, including rural youth, once hippie arch enemies, who now sported long locks, facial hair, and most certainly smoked marijuana down in Muskogee. 

Today very short hair is hip. Shaved heads are common. Which brings me to my doctor's waiting room.

In a week I'll be joining the nouveaux Roundheads. I already cut my hair way short, something I do every once in a while just for the hell of it. Next stop, buzz cut all over. Shaving my skull? Seems like a lot of bother -- I hardly do that to trim my facial hair, speaking of which, that too may have to go. If I had the stones to bear the pain I'd shave my skull and have it tattooed, but in spite of having two gifted tattoo artists as nephews my skin is not inked anywhere, for the simple reason that it hurts.

My doctor is young and has a very full head of hair. I remind him that at my age so do I. Already the medical armies have devastated more of me than I'd prefer. Can't I keep this? My doctor smiles sympathetically, but there will be no follicular mercy. I will be a Cavalier no longer. Oliver Cromwell, I'm your man.

I'll shout and scream. I'll kill the king. I'll rail at all his servants.