“Hey, your hair looks like a comb-over,” he chortled.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I’ve been cutting and combing my hair the same way for 30 years.”
“It looks like a comb-over,” he repeated, and then left the room laughing and searching for a television showing ESPN.
To prove him wrong, I walked over to the mirror and saw what I always see: A relatively young guy grinning sheepishly. Sure, my hair had thinned a bit, and I could see a little scalp, but if it’s a comb-over now, it must have been a comb-over for years. That couldn’t be possible, could it?
A few weeks later, I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen for years. The first words out of his mouth weren’t encouraging.
“Man, you’re a lot more gray than I remembered,” he said.
Well, at least he hadn’t used the words “comb-over.”
Maybe it was time to consult someone who could definitively tell me whether I had been Mr. Comb-Over for years and what, if anything, could be done about it. Noehmi was the stylist, recommended by a younger and more stylish guy (he’s in a rock band, for gosh sakes), and I allowed her a few seconds to take it all in before I spoke.
“If it’s time to make a change, I’d like to go with something along the lines of a convertible cut,” I told her.
She looked at me blankly.
“You know, one of those haircuts the cool guys have on TV where they can put the top down on their car, drive hundreds of miles in the hot sun with their hair billowing in the breeze, and then hop out of the car not looking like they’ve just completed a frightening experiment with electricity,” I said.
This time, the pause was brief.
“That’s not going to happen here,” she said. “Your hair is too thin and too gray, and it looks like you have a comb-over going anyway.”
And with that, she started cutting. And cutting. And cutting. Past the Mullet. Past the McDreamy. Past the Pitt. Past even the Cuban. When she finally finished, I wound up with something that can only be described as the Lloyd – distinguished-gentleman, spiky-short, silvery hair, combed back and rubbed with a compound designed to make what hair I had left look like it had just climbed out of bed with me.
The first few people I walked by in my office stammered some platitudes, their eyes bulging, about how great I looked.
Then the self-proclaimed office truth-teller weighed in.
“If you were trying to cover up that bald spot on your head, this isn’t working for you,” she said.
I went home a new man, changed but still wondering if the change was for the better.
“What happened to you?” my son asked. “Your hair looks even worse now.”
I had my answer.