I remember the musical Hair. Ah, how I delighted in my hair back in the 60s and 70s. “Hair down to there, hair!” Hair products morphed from a few choices such as Baby Shampoo, Prell, Suave and that upstart Head and Shoulders. (As in head and shoulders above the rest? Or was the shoulders part for guys with hairy shoulders?) I had slightly wavy hair, so I remember ironing it. That was good for a few burns along the temples. We all wanted to look like Cousin It with hair glossy, straight, long, and lots of it.
But now in our Third Age, hair is becoming, well, problematic. First there are those who never, and I mean never, changed their hairstyle since 1965. Dudes and dudettes listen, that might work for Willie Nelson and Stevie Nicks, but the rest of us need to move along that style trail. For those of us who moved with the trends there was the Farrah Fawcett wings thing. Try to explain that to grandchildren later on in photo albums. And now we also have to explain photo albums. There were mullets “all business in the front and all party in the back” which begs the question where did you work for business? For men there was also the bangs Beatle look, the Rod Stewart shag and large Afro. For women there was the asymmetry Sassoon cut, the all over curly perm and the Dorothy Hamill bob. In fact, you can pretty much tell when a non-trendy person went to high school by the last hairstyle they had. Something in their brain says I was hot when I had this do, so it will “do” it for the rest of my life.
Of course guys (and some women) are not always so lucky. There is the hair loss thing. Rogaine aside, when your brush has more hair in it than your head has on it, it is time for an honest assessment. There is of course a wig. Do yourself a favor and if you go that way get a decent one made of human hair. Have your real remnants of hair cut regularly and either get a wig that matches your every increasing gray hair, or have your hair dyed to match the hairpiece. And never ever do the comb over. It screams insecure, pretending you have hair when we all know you don’t. The best look for men with pattern balding is to shave your head and maybe grow a T or soul patch. For women, a super short cut with some blow drying and gel or wonderful massive creative earrings. We are all heading that direction at some level so let’s agree if someone has a follicle challenge, short or shaved is way cool. And what the hey, maybe add some tattoos on the scalp for art and creativity.
Now don’t get me started on the hair that disappears from the head and goes rogue and reappears inside ears, on top of ears, on chins, out of noses and randomly on stomachs and necks where no hair has gone before. That stuff has got to go. If you live alone, you need a hair buddy to tell you if there is a lone hair wandering out of somewhere strange you can’t see. Or as they say on Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” Then wince and pull that sucker out. There are so few things left up to us as our bodies age, so few that are within our control, hair can still be one way we make a statement. And I choose to say, “I am hip, I am cool, and above all don’t underestimate me.”
Sally Franz and her third husband live on the Olympic Peninsula. She has two daughters, a stepson, and three grandchildren. Sally is the author of several humor books including Scrambled Leggs: A Snarky Tale of Hospital Hooey and The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Menopause. She hosts a local radio humor segment, “Baby Boomer Humor with Sassy Sally”.