Been this way for a decade — ever since I saw a picture of myself in the newspaper I used to work for and realized just how badly my little smoke-and-mirrors trick had failed.
I was 23 years old then, with a 40-year-old’s hairline. Up until that point I had feared becoming bald. But in trying to coif those last little whispies into something that resembled a hairstyle, I had become something much worse than bald. I was balding.
I decided that day to wrestle control of my failing folicles back from Mother Nature. After work I went straight to the barber shop and told him to shave it all.
It didn’t take him very long, and I could tell he was a little uncomfortable accepting payment for such an easy job.
The weekly trips to the barber soon became costly, so after about a month I went to Costco and picked up the Gigantor-size package of razers and shave gel.
I’ve never looked back.
I don’t miss my hair, and I certainly don’t miss the looks of pity I used to get as the grocery store clerk rang through my tubes of Dippity-Do.
And while being bald has its advantages, it also comes with a few drawbacks. For starters, I like to go running with my hat turned around backwards, which usually leaves a funny red semi-circle smack in the middle of my forehead if I forget to lather up with sunscreen.
Secondly, as a cop, I’m frequently forced to endure the laundry list of lame-o taunts from bad guys and looky-loos who think they can get my goat by calling me “chrome dome” or “cueball.”
Like last week. Four beat officers, including myself, were trying to help one of the locals who had fallen off the rails. A paranoid schizophrenic with a predilection for speed and cocaine, he’d gone AWOL from his addictions treatment centre. Now he was high, off his meds and in a foul mood. We handcuffed him for our safety — and for his — while we waited for an ambulance to take him back to the psych ward.
It was quite the scene, which drew the usual crowd of cop critics and members of the iPhone paparazzi, convinced that the Downtown Eastside beat cops were trampling the rights of the downtrodden.
The man was amped up, so the paramedics asked us to escort them to the hospital. My partner climbed into the back of the ambulance to assist. As I crossed Hastings Street to my car so I could follow them to hospital, I heard one of the cop haters cat-call.
“Hey baldy. Use a crosswalk.”
I considered stopping to explain the situation, but I learned long ago that it’s useless trying to reason with an unreasonable person. And with four camera phones pointed my direction, I didn’t feel like being baited into a YouTube clip.
So, I ignored the taunt and carried on, feeling a little disappointed. I love a good one-liner as much as anyone, and here I had served one up like giant, glowing softball. It was just waiting to be hit out of the park. Still, all I got was another “Hey Baldy” (this particular cop hater has since taken to calling me “skin head,” which is equally lame and unoriginal, yet definitely more offensive).
While I can’t do much about donut jokes and people who insist on saying “It wasn’t me” when I walk into bars, over the past decade I have certainly heard my share of original and unoriginal bald-guy barbs. Here’s a list of my top 5, intended to inspire something a little more creative than “Hey baldy” the next time I run into the peanut gallery.
1. “Yo Powder. Use a crosswalk.”
2. “Hey Sinead O’Conner. Take the handcuffs off.”
3. “Constable. You look like a stick of roll-on deodorant.”
4. “Hey Telly Savalas/Mr. Clean/Lex Luther/Moby…”
5. “Excuse me. Aren’t you the guy from “The Scream?”