The man said he needed to talk to someone about a situation that had gotten out of hand. All he asked of me was to listen to his story. I sat quietly as he stared into his coffee cup and shared his troubling tale.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” I said, “how did all this begin?”
He said it started in a small way that seemed harmless at the time. “I noticed my hair was thinning on top and decided to drop my part a little. It was hardly noticeable at first, maybe a half inch or so below the norm. As my hair kept receding, I went lower with my part. When my part met my ear, I began wondering if I could comb my sideburns upward. That’s when I knew I needed help.”
“Have you thought about wearing a toupee?” I asked.
“I thought about it,” he said, “but I don’t like the idea of wearing someone else’s hair. There’s no way of knowing where that hair came from or where it’s been.”
“But couldn’t you wash it, run it through the dryer, and spray it with Lysol?” I asked. The man acknowledged it could be done but quickly added, “It would be like wearing someone else’s underwear. You could wash it a hundred times but that still wouldn’t be enough.”
“What about trying a new approach to your combover?” I inquired. “You could part it from the other side, or go from back to front, or maybe give it a swirl?”
“Tell me more about the swirl,” he said. “That’s sounds rather promising.”
I confessed that I had only seen a full swirl done successfully one time and that regretfully I had no pictures to document it. “It was a spring day several decades ago,” I began. “The Chamber of Commerce was hosting a Developer’s Day in Dooly County. We had invited 20 or so influential guests who could help us with industrial recruitment. Most of them were from Atlanta and worked in state government or for the utility companies.”
“Who was the guy with the swirl?” asked the man.
“I’ve long forgotten his name,” I said. “Even if I knew, I wouldn’t want to share it without his permission.”
“I understand,” he replied. “Tell me more.”
“The developers were given three choices of how to spend the day. They could fish in Dewel Lawrence’s pond that was loaded with bream, play a round of golf at Lake Blackshear, or take a boat ride on the Flint River. I went with the group on the boat ride. That’s where it happened.”
“That’s where what happened?” asked the man.
“That’s where the swirl broke loose,” I said. “Buddy Pruett was driving his boat about twenty miles an hour straight into a noticeable breeze. The fellow wasn’t wearing a cap. Next thing you know he had two feet of hair flapping behind him like a flag. It was fully extended like a car lot banner in a March wind.”
“Did you get tickled?” asked the man.
“I got tickled,” I said, “but I didn’t laugh. I looked away and tried to think of sad occasions to help distract me. As Buddy slowed the boat to pull up to the dock, the fellow ran his hands through his hair. To my surprise it returned to its original position, a full wrap-around swirl that cleverly hid his baldness.”
“So, you think a swirl may be the answer to my dilemma?” asked the man.
“Absolutely not,” I said. “I think a swirl is a terrible idea. I told you that story to let you know just how bad it can get. I believe you already know what you need to do.”
“You’re right,” said the man. “But do you think I’ll look funny without my hair?”
“Probably,” I replied. “Maybe you should first try to train your sideburns to grow upwards.”
He laughed and said he was going to get a haircut. I hope he doesn’t change his mind. Lowering his part had seemed harmless in the beginning, but he almost hit rock bottom at the top of his ears.