Ezy Reading: The 7-11 Syndrome

Evan Kanarakis

Growing up, I knew it was fairly inevitable that at some point in my not-too-distant adult future I'd be forced to come face to face with an inescapable genetic predisposition: baldness. My Dad was unlucky enough to be pretty much completely bald by his early-twenties, and even if the gene for baldness is meant to come from your mother's family, my grandfather on that side was similarly stricken by the time he turned twenty-five as well. Things did not bode well, and so in my teens I did my best to make sure I grew as large a Greek afro as good sense and a private boys' high school would allow (take it from me, those class photos ain't pretty).

Which means, really, I should be quite happy about my current state. In a few month's time I'll be thirty, and for the last five years my follicles have waged a spirited, if ultimately fruitless Battle of the Somme-like effort which has saved me from suffering as early a fate as my father and grandfather. Yes, inevitably, things aren't looking good for the troops; we now seem to be losing more and more brave soldiers on a daily basis to the pillow and bathroom sink, and supply lines and reinforcements are starting to be pushed to their limit. But I've been fortunate enough to extend by a good half a decade that absolute need for me as a fully-fledged bald man to start applying sun-screen in summer or warm hats in winter to my shiny, barren dome, and that's not a bad thing.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not an especially vain person, and I've quite happily accepted my gradual transition from being pointed out as 'that guy carrying the black bag' to 'that bald guy over there'. As I said, I've had a long time with prior knowledge of my fate to accept what was going to happen. There will be no comb'overs or appointments with the clinic of 'We Staple Rat Fur to Your Head' for this guy. I'll leave the desperate hair measures for desperate ageing 80's rockers and bad actors looking for a lift in the resume by appearing in late'night hair clinic testimonials.

Please read the following stiffly, with irregular pauses and intonation, a fixed expression, and half the tail end of an old gerbil bloodily staple-gunned to your forehead:
"I tell you, I could not believe the results. Before, I was fat, ugly and bald. Now, the chicks can't stop asking me out and wanting to run their hands through my luxurious tail of hair. And you can only really see the permanent scarring if you look at my head. It is amazing! I am ecstatic!"

If anything, for me, the only significant aspect of entering baldhood is that it must be one of the first major signposts in life giving up notice that you're getting older. That, perhaps, in the wake of all those folks around you getting married, having babies and buying homes (and what with all that hair falling out) perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad thing to put down that Playstation for a moment and stop musing about whether or not Bugs Bunny really was a troubled transsexual when you should be concentrating on the fact you're in a meeting with the bank manager and he's saying that, basically, you're screwed. Then again, Bugs really did enjoy spending time in women's clothing, so what's up with that?...

The landmark moment in my discovery that baldness was starting to take hold was what I now like to call 'the 7-11 syndrome'. Essentially, one afternoon, while in a 7-11 convenience store, I was buying a pack of gum and, no doubt distracted by thoughts of Bugs Bunny's sex life I absently passed a five-dollar note across the counter. While waiting for my change I noticed a black and white security'camera television on a nearby wall. There, on the screen, were two people from an overhead angle. One with a healthy head of hair, the other showing a rather noticeable large doughnut on that part of his scalp normally covered with hair. Bemused, I snickered and thought, 'Man, this cashier is really, really bald.' Problem was, when I glanced up to get my change, the guy behind the counter was a Lebanese dude with an eighteen-inch afro. I had no afro. As panic set in, I shot back to the television set. Now, studying things a little more closely, there was a panicked bald guy on the screen standing opposite a Lebanese guy with an eighteen-inch afro. I waved my hands. I was that bald guy. Ashamed, I immediately used one hand to cover the bald-patch, and the other to grab my change while I muttered a weak thank-you and cursed the revelations made finally and abundantly clear by overhead security cameras. The 7-11 syndrome was born, though I'm sure it has 'outed' many a man over the years, whether they were buying gum at two in the afternoon or a suspect chicken hero at four in the morning.

So I should probably be prepared for the fact that, very soon, people will now have licence to start calling me things like 'chrome dome' and 'shiner', and will occasionally drop references to monks from 'The Name of the Rose' that look like me (I'm gunning for Christian Slater or Sean Connery rather than the retarded self-flagellating dude). Within a few short months I'll join the ranks of my other bald friends, many of whom were unlucky enough to be stricken down well before their dating prime, some as early as their last year or so of high school (ouch). Out, in the streets, I'll welcome the secret code and silent nods bald men no doubt use to communicate with each other, and I'll believe that there still is a chance for bald men to score hot chicks so long as Bruce Willis (not Phil Collins) is keeping the dream alive.

So yes, get over yourself, ye worrying balders and embrace the change because it's out of your control anyway, unless you want to spend a foolish amount of money on what most folks will pick out as a dead hamster from a mile away. Apparently things like growing up and embracing adulthood are more important to get bothered about than losing a few follicles, and if anything those real worries of life will likely make sure to kill off the last hairs left on your head better than genetics ever could. But enough of all this depressing chatter about the harsh realities of life for now. Put on your favourite cap, grab a beer and turn on the Playstation. It's time to ignore father'time for just a little bit longer and I'm sure the bank manager can wait.

Tune in for the latest edition of Ezy Reading every Monday.