July 7th, 2009


I wish I hadn't shaved off my hair!

1. Every few years I shave my head. The first time I did it was when I was 26, and had just signed to Creation. I wanted to look harder, less bourgeois. The next time I did it was when I was 33. You can see it on the Pierre et Gilles Timelord cover. There was another shave when I was 40 and living in New York, and another four years later. I did it again this weekend.

2. It's not like you suddenly say to yourself "I know, I want to look bald!" or "I want to resemble Namihei, the father in Sazae-San!" But sometimes you get the sudden impulse to do it. To shave it all off! For the way it feels!

3. It was really hot and humid last week. Hisae was out at the dentist. I was shaving my stubble with my American electric shaver as usual, going up my sideburns. I went a little further up, then a little further.

4. At this point I should say that Hisae hates men with shaved heads. In fact, she's often told me that if I shave my head again, she'll leave me. So I was taking a risk. I'd have some explaining to do.

5. Nevertheless, I couldn't help pushing the warm, oiled, buzzing shaver further across the side of my head. The resulting fuzz felt so cool, so smooth! My heavy, hot hair fell to the floor soundlessly. It felt reckless, transgressive!

6. I played around with half-shaved styles for a while. Ha ha ha! Mohican! Bald uncle! Blind nutter!

7. When Hisae got back from the dentist, she was truly appalled. "I'm going to leave you!" she screamed. "That looks horrible! Who are you? Are you a monk?"

8. "Well, at least other girls won't like me now!" I said. "Yes, and neither will I!" retorted Hisae.

9. We eventually negotiated that I would wear Curly Carl, my performance wig, until my hair grew back.

10. We went out that evening to see Ben Butler and Mousepad play at Madame Claude's. I wore the wig. People looked at me very strangely. But they do that anyway.

11. When we got home, Hisae was in a more conciliatory mood. "The wig makes you look like you have cancer. It's okay not to wear it. I'll just wait patiently for your hair to return."

12. I both hate my new shave and love it.

13. Good points: It feels really nice and fresh. I feel streamlined, and I can feel excess heat just evaporating effortlessly away through the top of my head.

14. Bad points: It's really difficult to look good with a shaved head. I don't like how it looks, and I like even less how it's going to look in a couple of months, as it grows out. See the photo above with Kumi Okamoto, for instance. It's at that horrible standy-uppy phase. It'll be doing that in about three months from now.

15. My hair has been thinning for at least the last ten years. It's happening very, very slowly, but every time I shave my head I wonder "Will it grow back?" Each time it does I'm pleasantly surprised, even if it's clearly thicker in some areas than others.

16. I don't really like the hairline or the head shape a shave reveals: I have a pronounced widow's peak and a double crown.

17. Men try to compensate for having no hair by growing a big bead or wearing interesting spectacles (the red "Buggles" ones above belong to Emma Balkind), but they always just look like... men trying to compensate for having no hair.

18. On the other hand, lots of people have a ton of hair and still look crap. Yes!

19. In a sense, waiting for hair to grow back is condemning yourself to months of unhappiness with your own appearance. Was that spontaneous decision to shave really worth those months of pain?

20. At the same time there's something energising and delightful about a shaved head. It feels so good, so prickly, under your palm! People love to touch it! It's -- literally, if not stylistically -- cool!

21. I also notice that the times I've had a shaved head tend to correspond to times I've had a surprising amount of success with women. Even if I thought I looked bad, something seemed to appeal. I think one reason might be that when you have a shaved head you look like a huge, erect, walking penis. That works, you know, subliminally on women. When they look at you, something deep in their subconscious says "Penis!"

22. Despite the obvious compensation of "looking subliminally like a huge erect walking penis", I wish I hadn't shaved off my hair! Oh well, it'll grow back. Possibly.