The male ego is a more complicated creature than the Apollo spacecraft. I’m actually pretty sure that man went to space because someone’s ego was bruised and he was out for revenge. What makes it more twisted is its horcrux-like ability to be stuffed in bits and pieces in the male collective consciousness, and forever kept alive — throbbing, alert and easily offended. Thus, men are sensitive about their height, the breadth of their chest, the length of their cocks (and, baselessly, their shoe sizes), the width of their wallets, the bass of their voice, the quality of their eyesight, the costliness of their cars and the age of their wives.
Oh, and hair — the blackness of it, its length, volume, thickness, style and cut — men have an almost Samson-esque insecurity that their strength, prowess and potency lie in the presence (and quality) of their hair. This is truly baseless, because bald men can be both strong and handsome if they take care of themselves, watch what they eat and groom themselves — the same rules of living a good life that applies to everybody else. Why, then, does a portly, middle-aged man with beer breath get to poke fun at his bald friend who is more successful, well-travelled and can count all of his abdominal muscles?
Balding is always equated with ageing, and youth is the biggest concern of any man on the other side of 35. Heck, these days there are anti-wrinkle cream ads that tell you that your skin starts dying at 21. So, young men who are not old enough to drink hard liquor in some states in this country are expected to start worrying about dying skin. And true to nature, men have tried everything they can to turn back the clock. After creams, Botox and face lifts, you even have make up options for men these days, which is a confusing double-edged sword for the male ego — you are touchy about looking old, but you are fine wearing make up? Now that is what I call a conundrum of epic proportions — not. Thus, even for hair, you have plugs and grafts and grains and what-not, but let’s face it, for many men, balding sets in earlier than usual. There’s genetics involved, an experimental college life or just hard water — sometimes, balding has nothing to do with age.
I am still on the sweeter side of 30 and have a thinning head of hair. It is partially genetic, but also has to do with my hippie phase in college, when I grew my hair out till my elbows and didn’t take care of it at all. Honestly, I don’t care about it much, but people around me find it to be their personal responsibility to make me aware of it. I have older uncles telling me, “Oh my God, you are balding!” I almost want to smile and say, “Thank you, I’ve never seen a mirror in my life.” I have friends who make it a point to comment about my hairline in photographs which are clearly about the fancy-ass clothes I am wearing or the chic club I am partying at. “Don’t try to hide your bald head with that hairstyle! ” 1. How is me having enough hair to cover my receding hairline a bad thing? That just means I am not bald yet. 2. If I did let my broad forehead stare at you, would you not have poked fun at it anyway? Men make fun of people who are bald, balding and trying-tohide-the-fact-that-they-are-balding. It is an unfair, cruel world.
I personally don’t understand the obsession with youth, but hey, I get why the world is always trying to turn the clock back. Youth means stronger, faster, handsome-r and better times — but we forget that youth is a construct of the mind. We ran marathons as 20-somethings or climbed mountains or biked through Leh because we believed that we could do it and craved adventure. Keep that crazy 20-year old alive and kicking inside you and the world is your oyster even at 75, and a thick mane has nothing to do with being stronger-better-wiser. Usain Bolt’s almost bald, and Donald Trump has a full head of hair. Mic drop.