Okay, I need a head’s up (I couldn’t resist).
I told you yesterday that my hair is falling out. Little clumps, not all that noticeable right now, but I’m increasingly de-tufting, and because I know now that I’ll soon look like a poster boy centerfold for the mange, tomorrow I’m shaving my head.
Why do this? Sure, I suppose there’s a little vanity at play there, but I was receding on top, anyway, and I also don’t want to go out amongst ‘em looking like a half-plucked chicken and scaring the bejeebus out of little children and dogs.
There’s also bound to be a type of persona out there walking around unsupervised who thinks they can catch baldness from a toilet seat, and I don’t need to stir up trouble and be challenged to a duel in a public privy.
Of course, the humorist in me wants to carpe diem, let my fluttering pate go all shaggy-waggy, and use the opportunity to get a laugh or two when I’m eventually asked what happened to me:
“Way too much charcoal lighter fluid at the BBQ.”
And, just now, after telling Diane my plan, she assures me that “bald is sexy,” again calling upon her knack for knowing precisely what to say.
But, lately, I’m not sure if I’m in a time-in or a time-out mode. Can you go with me on that? Can you relate to feeling like you’re stuck in a cross between a freefall down a rabbit hole and a hot air balloon ride?
I barely can, and I’m in it.
Still, I’ve trusted you this far, and I know that you’re trying to vicariously don my disease duds for yourselves: rehearsing how you’d check the fit, shrug the shoulders, pull at the collar, snug up or loosen the crotch, just to see how they might feel and look on you in case you wake up one morning in cancer pajamas.
Don’t be embarrassed: we all do it all our lives. George Carlin had a wonderful bit about it, when he talked about attending a funeral. There we are, looking at the coffin, and the first thing we do is subtract our age from theirs. It’s old human math for trying to figure how much time we (possibly) have left. There’s some comfort in it.
Or, we will often offer this: “I know just how you feel.” We don’t, of course; we can’t, but we say it kindly anyway, hoping to support and console. It can never fit us exactly down to the ground, but we mean well by it. All of us, at one time or another, have tripped and fallen into the abyss of best intentions.
We’re also clumsy at commiseration, and that’s normal, too. We get scared that we might say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or the right thing in the wrong way. Don’t worry about it. I’ve found, in 35 years of nursing, that people are suckers for the truth. The closer you stay to that, the better.
Anything you level at someone with love in your heart will never be wasted.
But, even if you lived through cancer, or a shipwreck, or the Disco years, you never lived through my versions, nor I yours. Maybe yours was brain cancer. Maybe you were marooned with a talking soccer ball. Maybe you got a groove on with KC and the Sunshine Band (if so, I forgive you).
See you on top of the bottom.
More as we go, El