Thursday, December 30, 2004

On Balding

When my doctor told me I'd lose some, most or all of my hair, I have to confess, I didn't think it would be that big a deal. But to my surprise, it is. Adam is nineteen, and although he wanders around in his boxers all the time, I've been careful for years not to appear in front of him in any state in which I couldn't legally go out in public. So if I get up in the middle of the night, since I sleep in a t-shirt, I reach for my pants.

Now, the first thing I reach for is a cap. I still have hair. Quite a bit. It's thin, and you can see some scalp through the strands, but I have more hair than a lot of guys with comb overs. (Not Donald Trump, but a lot of guys.) But I have a morbid fear of upsetting people. And I feel like a walking momento mori. In particular, I'm afraid of upsetting Adam.

It's for very selfish reasons. At nineteen he's a lot more engaged in the world than he is in his family (which is part of the business of being nineteen.) When he can't find any of his friends to hang with, he will happily sit and talk to me--as long as he's been awake for awhile. (not a morning person.) But I remember when a friend's father had cancer--she spent an enormous amount of time not being at home.

I'm afraid that if I wander around here sparse and straggly, besides looking more than a little unkempt, I will push Adam away. So I reach for my cap. And I'm afraid if I'm sparse or bald in public, I will disturb people. Eventually, it may be out of my hands. If today's treatment results in more hair loss next week, I might lose eyebrows and eyelashes and I can't really do a whole lot about that. (I can draw in eyebrows, and do my best to look like a 40's starlet--that being an era when women seemed to pluck their eyebrows out and then re-draw them in, often in high arches that gave them a look of perpetual surprise. But eyelashes are pretty much beyond me.)

I'll be oddly glad when the in-between stage is over.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey. china mieville's got a good gig going.

i'm just sayin'.


December 30, 2004 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Maureen -- I just surfed on over here from Greg van E's site. Thanks for the fascinating posts, and all the best wishes, vibes, and thoughts to you on a speedy recovery.

For what it's worth, a good friend of mine from college lost all her hair due to alopecia, and the first time I saw her w/o her hair was a bit of a shock, but once a few seconds had passed, I was cool with it. She even got her eyebrows tattooed on. How cool is that? Take care.

Mike Jasper

December 30, 2004 1:37 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Barth, I'm not in the same league as China Mieville. I'm sticking to Cher.

Mike! How goes the writing?

December 30, 2004 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Maureen -- the writing's going well, and I'm trying to get motivated to revise my latest novel. But I've been pleasantly distracted by the birth of our first child, a little fella by the name of Drew, back on Dec. 14th. :)

December 31, 2004 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, that was me, Mike Jasper, previously...

December 31, 2004 6:26 AM  

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