Did I Say That? The bald truth
I don’t own a TV, which makes me a little weird according to 21st century habits. And even though I confess to watching shows on my iPad, I’m not one of those elitists who salivates over 25-part adaptations of Charles Dickens’ novels on PBS.
I prefer cheap thrills. Lately I’ve been watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which is a spinoff developed in the 1980s after Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Mr. Spock retired to Naples, Fla.
I find the show entertaining because it gives me a glimpse into the future. During one episode, the doctor on the USS Enterprise cured people of cirrhosis, heart disease and brain tumors in under two minutes by using a magical medical wand. No surgery required.
In the 24th century, I suppose anything is possible ... although not everything is possible. I realized that when I first encountered starship Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by actor Sir Patrick Stewart. You see, Star Trek takes place 300 years from now, at a time when disease has been eradicated, and there’s no starvation, deprivation, constipation or acne. So why is Captain Picard as bald as a bald eagle?
In the 24th century when they can travel nine times faster than light, they still haven’t found a cure for male-pattern baldness. (The android Mr. Data has a full head of hair, but it’s a toupee.)
The only reason I want to live to 100 is because I hoped there’d be a cure for baldness by then. It is a scourge that has afflicted mankind, and womankind, since we got kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
Every few years, experts claim science is on the verge of a major breakthrough that will resurrect dead hair follicles. The first miracle drug they developed was Rogaine, which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you don’t apply it every day, you’ll keep losing hair. Then, there’s Propecia, another anti-baldness medicine that has to be taken regularly. Neither drug grows new hair. They just slow down the loss of hair, with assorted side-effects.
Back in the 1980s, artificial implants made from plastic were the craze, but they led to infections and lawsuits. Besides, does your girlfriend really want to run her fingers through your luscious hair made from polyethylene strands?
And so the quest continues. In his seminal work, “Hair!: Mankind’s Historic Quest to End Baldness,” Gersh Kuntzman wrote, “Just as a prior generation of doctors once obliterated smallpox, baldness is under attack from some of the most highly trained and gifted physicians and researchers of their age, people who could be curing cancer but have chosen instead to battle a condition that affects more than 60 percent of men and 30 percent of women.” I hate to inform him — those geniuses are sleeping on the job.
The only options I can see are to shave my head, get a transplant, invest in a rug, or resort to the notorious combover, where a few scraggly strands of hair are held in place with a generous application of Gorilla Glue.
If it’s any consolation, “you are not alone,” as they say in 12-step programs. An estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S. suffer from male-pattern baldness.
Everyone from Julius Caesar to Donald Trump has agonized over hair loss. Julius resorted to a combover. Nobody in Ancient Rome dared to snicker at him because they would have been decapitated, which is a time-honored Roman cure for hair loss, known as head loss.
President Trump reportedly told one of his executives, “Never let yourself go bald. The worst thing a man can do is go bald.” (He is said to use Propecia.) With all his cash, he should be throwing a few billion dollars toward a cure, which would ensure he gets the bald vote in 2020.
There have only been five bald presidents — Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren and James Garfield. And Donald Trump doesn’t want to be the sixth.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.