It was a standard line you'd always hear as an anxious kid before haircuts, an assurance if you feared a botched job. "It's just hair. It'll grow back."
And it did, for a while. Through the bowl cuts, the middle parts, the spiked-all-overs, the spiked-in-fronts, it always came back. For all the challenges I had given my hometown barbers, it never failed to return. Every frivolous stage of my teenage years was translated into a new, goofy look.
"I want the Jonathan Taylor Thomas."
"I want the Rancid album cover."
And I went through college with that same, blissful regard for my flourishing follicles.
"I want the charming, intellectual 20-something with a mysterious past. ... OK, fine. Just spike the front and blend in the rest."
I lived in that ignorance for many of my 26 years, but there were signs of some impending roadblock. Here and there, I noticed that my hairline was maybe a bit higher than the previous day. I even remember joking about it hiding from my face, but it was never quite real to me. At least, it wasn't real until a hair appointment last fall.
I was getting the Smith Special, although I may be the only person who calls it that. After the job was complete, I put my glasses back on and something just seemed off.
"My hair's ... thinning? Is it thinning right there?"
"Yep," she said, clearly not aware of the paramountcy of this moment.
"I'm ... balding?"
"Yep," she said.
My first reaction to the revelation was textbook cool.
This is no big deal.