Although my kids are grown and I no longer need to buy 200-count boxes of diapers or 10-pound bags of pancake batter mix, I've maintained my Costco membership and usually stop by every few months to pick up a few personal necessities and cat litter. Now, realizing that this may fall into the “too much information” zone, I'm going to nevertheless take a chance and share with you a recent revelation: I no longer need to buy shampoo. Ever. Again. Never. Done. It's over.
With the exception of a small amount of gray fuzz on the sides that I shave off each morning, I'm now as bald as Yul Brenner, Telly Savalas, and that Australian dude from Midnight Oil. As you can see from the pictures I've posted, it hasn't always been this way. The one on the left was taken when I was 18, and the other was shot 48 years later. I know what you're thinking ... age, genes, and male sexual dihydrotestosterone.But hold your horses, Mister Ed. I suspect a musical connection.
Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, I went from a crew cut to flat top, a buzz cut to a modified duck-tail pompadour. My three main style influences were Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, and actor Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, who played the parking valet on the television show 77 Sunset Strip and was always combing his hair. He even had a novelty song he did with Connie Stevens – “Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb” – that was a top ten hit. And while the most popular male hair products on the market back then were Brylcreem (“a little dab'll do ya”), Wildroot, and Vitalis Hair Tonic, I opted for this one.
On Feb. 9, 1964, millions of American families sat around their black-and-white DuMont or Admiral television sets to watch four moptops appear for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. Modestly short by today's standards, the way they wore and shook their hair when they sang was an aphrodisiac to teenage girls, and a few months later I had grown my hair out over my ears and collar, carried a cereal bowl down the street to the barber shop that I placed on top of my head as a guide, and got my first official Beatle cut.
By the Summer of Love in 1967, men's hair flowed longer and longer. When the Byrds sang “so you wanna be a rock and roll star,” we all said “yeah yeah yeah” and let it grow despite the social constraints. We all dressed in costumes anyway, so the musicians and audience looked indistinguishable from each other. In England there were Mods, Rockers, and Teddy Boys, and in America it was simply greasers and hippies. My father didn't speak to me for two years; we ate our meals separately at different times and I wasn't allowed to get a driver's license until I got a suitable haircut, which never happened.
After college my career goals were pretty simplistic: I wanted a job where I could always wear jeans, get stoned, and keep my hair long. That led to spending the next 35 years being a music business sales and marketing weasel, with a variety of long hairstyles often tied back into a ponytail. By the late ’90s it had morphed into – God save me – a mullet. I was wearing cowboy boots, drove a Ford Bronco, and was influenced by way too many trips to Nashville. It was the beginning of the end, and it broke my achy breaky heart.
By the time Y2K came rollin' around, I was sporting a short, combed back Vic Damone thing with an ever-growing spot of skin in the back, and I began to ponder possible solutions. Toupees, hair weaves, restoration, ointments, plugs, and assorted medicinals were considered and tossed aside.
For reasons unknown, India seems to have become the hotbed of new treatments for baldness. There are lettuce and carrot juices to drink, shampoo made from milk and licorice, a process of wearing a paste of seeds and coconut oil in the sun for seven days and something called Binaural Beats, which are frequency modulators that encourage your hair follicles to grow when you listen to them. You can check it out herefor free if you'd like, or follow another suggestion I just read about: maintain a regular bowel movement every day.
For the past few years I've been rockin' the bald head with a close-cut Van Dyke beard that's favored by Ultimate Fighting Champions, border security guards, and dudes who like to take their four-wheelers out into the California desert on weekends. Recently I thought that I finally discovered why I'm bald: it was my darn headphones. Seriously ... I read it on the internet. In an article I found from Seventeenpublished last year, a “celebrity hairstylist” named Castillo claims that wearing over-the-ear headphones can rough up your hair strands and cause them to break off. Another credible authority called Hub Pages speculates that “traction alopecia usually happens when there is a strain on the hair, so if your headset is pulling your hair or putting undue stress on your hair in some way, you could risk losing your hair to this method of hair loss.”
Don't believe any of it. All these theories have been debunked by scientists. Mystery solved and this case is closed. Headphones, earbuds, or going to see live music will absolutely not cause your hair to fall out. On the other hand, it could lead to hearing loss. What? Huh? Did you just say something?
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed.