Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Irish Indo, 5 January 2013

The Bald Truth

the bald truth
For every crappy thing that can happen to you in life, there is a bogus consolation prize. If you’re old, they say you’re wise. If you’re blind, you must have super hearing. And if your team crashes out of Euro 2012, placed dead last in the entire competition, they call you the best fans in the world.

Well, I’m not buying it.

I’m bald. They say bald men are more virile than other men. I doubt it. I say we’re more bald than other men. I mean, we might be more virile. It’s possible. But who knows? Who’s done the research? To ensure an unbiased population sample, she’d have to have slept with, like, a hundred bald men, and a hundred men with hair. And if you’re sleeping with that lady, there’s a lot more you should be worried about than how she rates your performance.

Men worry about going bald. They should do. It happened to me. It could happen to you. Your hairline might already be receding in tiny increments. But here’s how you’ll know when the jig is really up.

It’s when the barber no longer takes out that mirror, to show you the back of your head, at the end of the haircut. (Or he takes it out, but he flashes past the back of your head like a Top Gun pilot buzzing the tower.)

The barber isn’t stupid. He knows you’re going to blame him for your bald spot. Damn right, you’re going to blame him for it. He’s the surgeon. He lost the patient.

And once you’re bald, what corrective action is there to be taken? None. Society has deemed it acceptable for naturally beautiful women to wear fake tan, high heels and eyelashes you could sweep the kitchen floor with. But if the poor, persecuted bald man dares to sport a toupee or a combover, he will be scorned and ridiculed wherever he goes.

And that’s where things stood from the dawn of time, pretty much, until August 19th 2012. That morning, The Daily Telegraph carried an article titled “Baldness cure could be one the shelves in two years.” A bald friend emailed it on to me. He was quite excited. This was The Daily Telegraph, he stressed. Not Weekly World News.

The article reported that Pennsylvania University has developed a lotion which “raises the possibility of not only stopping hair loss, but also of bald men also being able to regrow full heads of hair.” I read that last part about a dozen times. It was as though the sun had just peaked out from behind a cloud. In my head, I began to hear Paul Robeson singing Go Down Moses.

Sweet holy Jesus! This was deliverance!

Now as it happens, on August 19th 2012, I was invited to a lesbian wedding reception. And it’s funny. If you are a bald man, and you do ever find yourself brainstorming potential comeback haircuts, there aren’t many better places you could be than a lesbian wedding reception. What would I look like with a mullet, I wondered? Or a pompadour? Or a Mohawk?

For the first time in half a decade, I dared to dream!

Six months later, the trail has gone cold. The big talking Head of Dermatology at Pennsylvania University has made no further grand claims in the press. None of the other newspapers or periodicals I’ve scoured have carried updates on the story.

Have the bald community’s hopes been raised in vain? Probably, yes. Why do I say that? Because life isn’t fair. As a bald men, I already know that. So there you go. You’re probably going bald. It is an affliction with no silver lining. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Oh, and Happy New Year!

N.B. The day after this was published my uncle George texted to say that he had avoided going bald by taking “special precautions”. When I asked what that meant, and he replied “There was a man in Raith [near Ballyhaunis] with the cure but unfortunately he died before you were born.” As I said, life’s a dick.