The other day, I was watching television when an ad for The Hair Club came on. It was, of course, extolling their incredible service of having a head of hair where before there was none, and it would only cost you many hundreds of dollars.
I just had to laugh at the ad, because I recently experienced a far more remarkable and overwhelmingly cheaper alternative. Actually, "alternative" doesn't do it justice. Modern miracle is better.
My dad is 93 years old. As long as I've known him, as long as I can remember him, he's been bald. Here he is a few years ago, when he was a sprightly 90. You don't get a great shot of the top of his head, but you get the idea just fine.
Take out a magnifying glass, if you wish. Call in Sherlock Holmes. Look as closely as you can, and you won't spot a sprig of hair on the top. You'll see a wonderful fellow -- just no hair.
Earlier this year, I went back to Chicago for a visit, I'd only just arrived, and we'd been talking for about three minutes when suddenly I stopped. I didn't say anything for a few seconds because I felt sort of foolish about what I was thinking. But...well, I had to ask.
"Wait, I'm sorry," I finally said. "I know this is really strange, but -- dad...are you growing hair???"
His wonderful caregiver Elisabeth was there, along with her equally wonderful husband Emmanuel. A big laugh broke out across their faces, and Elisabeth shouted, "I know!" That's what I told Doctor. I noticed it a few weeks ago, but he didn't believe me."
So, he does have hair there, I said. I'm not imagine things. Yes, said Emmanuel, that's what we said.
It surely wasn't a lot. Some wisps blowing in the wind, but after a lifetime of nothing, the empty Sahara Desert stretching as far as the eye can see, a few wild flowers springing up is still utterly remarkable.
We laughed about it and tried to come up with our theories, and it was certainly fun to see, and absolutely bizarre to imagine.
But it got even more bizarre.
Eventually I went back to Los Angeles, and then last minute you may recall that I returned to Chicago. I'd only just arrived, I went over to where my dad was sitting and we began talking. Suddenly...I stopped. Again. And again, I was hesitant to say anything because this now was really loony, but --
"Excuse me, but is your hair still growing in...thicker???"
And again Elisabeth burst out happy for the support. "That's what I keep telling him!!" she laughed.
"I don't know. I guess," my dad said. "That's what they say."
It's almost like you're now getting to the point where you have to comb it, I replied. "That's what I tell him!" Elisabeth laughed again. "See, Doctor."
"You're going to have to go to the barber and get a trim pretty soon," I said. Apparently so, he replied. And then added, "I don't think I'm growing any hair. I just think my head is shrinking."
To be clear, it isn't really that lush. But.from nothing to this, it is absolutely "lush" by comparison. It's now something that he has to -- if not brush -- at least smooth over so that he doesn't look natty. And that's just now. Who know how much more there will in the next few months, and beyond.
This isn't a great picture. It was the day I wrote about here when we had to go to the Emergency Room for some tests. I was leaving the next morning and had planned to take some photos that night, but I knew our seven hours there made that unlikely. So, I snapped a few quickly. Again, this is hardly lush, but there is absolutely, no question, a notable swatch of hair there now, where once there was nada.
As I said, we've come up with our theories, but really no answers. The only thing that makes sense is that it's some combination of the wide-variety of medications he takes every day. What in the world that combination is, we don't have a clue. If we did...man, we could bottle it and make a fortune.
But if anyone needed proof that you can grow hair after a lifetime of not, there you have it.
And when I see The Hair Club offering their services for many hundreds of dollars when you can get it for absolutely FREE (thank you, Medicare...), I know that an alternative is there, just waiting.
Life begins at 93. Or at least hair does...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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