Mitch, played by Billy Crystal in the 1990 movie City Slickers, has a rather emphatic middle-aged
concern: he has more hair in his ears and on his back than where he really wants to have the hair to prove his manliness.
This I can relate to. My grandfather (my mother's father) had a lush head of blond hair even as an old man, but that was not the trait I got.
Instead, I got my father's side of the genome: the beginning of a monk's pate in my mid-20s followed by chrome dome in my 30s, the iconic deforestation of male pattern baldness.
And the hair in the ears? Every follicle that Mitch feared has appeared, so there is that grooming to attend to as well.
Does any of this mean anything? Silly question when applied to human beings: of course, it means something because everything has to mean
something to the featherless bipeds trying to outlast their expiration dates or else they will feel even more bereft than they already do about their "humdrum lives," to quote the
cinematic philosopher Lina Lamont.
Dip in to the tonsorial debate about the Black coiffure to learn how important hair has become to identifying an identity (especially the
sector about cultural appropriation) or the ongoing discussion about the modern practice of depilatorizing the entire female body or wigs for Orthodox women or disappearing hair
altogether with head/body coverings.
Odd—though not really—how most of this concern about hair concerns women. But not all. The baldness of the male chips away at
self-esteem (one website calls the hair loss "a cancer of the spirit") and men carry, just as women carry, the weight of social hair judgments, in this case about virility (e.g.,
Samson), which connects to youth and aging, which connects to power and powerlessness. Before long, three middle-aged bourgeois men are up on horses being tutored by a grizzled old
coot about self-reliance and the code of the West to repair their sense of loss.
But I take much pleasure in the following adage: God made only a few perfect heads. The rest he hid under hair.
So, be the light of the world, chrome dome. Don't rue the loss, celebrate the shine.