I WISH I could whip my hair back and forth…

My beauty regimen, if an admittedly oafy guy like myself can even consider the minimally adequate grooming he does do at all regimental, has but one, distinct mission: trying to ward off the quickly encroaching male-pattern baldness for which my head seems preordained. Actually, my mother is losing more of her auburn strands with each passing day, too, so I guess I’ve got the baldies on both sides of the genome. In fact, my older brother, 35, shaves his head completely. Like Chris Daughtry or something.

To wit, like most men brand new to their 30s, I’m trying the comb-over now. Well, it’s more of a variation on the comb-over. And I think it’s going well–about as well as could reasonably be expected giving my pine straw mop’s stage four status, anyways. You can still tell if you see me from behind, and my driver’s license says I’m only 5 feet and 8 inches tall, so a lot of people can definitely make out my exposed scalp divot. [N.B. That’s me, far right, listening to Penny Arcade at the Poetry Project’s Burroughs centennial celebration late last year.] I just need a little more time for the hair that is there to grow longer. You’ll see. Promise.

I start with shampoo, of course. Something cheap, though. Whatever remains at the bodega, marked up as it is, should suffice. I once bought a Dove shampoo from Duane Reade that, somehow, had caffeine in it. It was like washing your hair with lavender coffee, but I felt I might be getting addicted to it, so I switched back to Pert. No, Suave. Yeah, I’m using Suave now.

Next comes the body wash. I like any kind that smells good. No real preference. If I’m out of body wash, the Suave shampoo will work OK. You have to have a loofah, as well. That goes without saying, almost. In this day and age, however, any everyman has to exfoliate. And I’ve not found a better exfoliant to add to the body wash than this apricot one made by Saint Ives. My girlfriend turned me on to it. It feels good, but it does retail for about $11.00. Totally worth it, all the same, in my honest opinion.

WARNING: Do not cheap out on the exfoliating step as outlined above. Your skin will regret it. And if you have a sensitive face, don’t try any beauty product that advertises itself as, quote, “homemade.” I have an ex-friend that makes her own shampoo, body wash and face wash (and sells them, bundled together, on Etsy, obviously), and I recently had to tell her that they were all terrible. Truly wretched. There’s a reason we test these things on rats. First!

After toweling off (and perhaps a quick Q-tip for each earhole), then comes the least inspiring part of my whole beauty experience…manning the aforesaid comb-over. It’s a delicate parlor trick, but it’s kind of simple to maintain. Allow me to explain the process. Wetted down from the shower, I comb all the fine hairs–what’s left of ‘em–backwards with a thick-toothed instrument (you may need to add a drop or two of warm water to the comb). Don’t run the comb through your hair more than 12 times. You don’t want to do this anymore than 12x; you might ruin everything. And then you’ll have to start over from the Q-tip phase. You’ll know you’re finished when you look in the mirror and see a combed back ‘doo close to the coif of Knicks-era Pat Riley (circa ’92-94). Then, and only then, am I, myself, brave enough to head out into the world.

If I know I’m going to be in the sun for a good portion of the day, I will do absolutely none of these things. I’ll wear, depending on the weather, either a knitted toboggan or my old Washington Bullets fitted cap. There’s no sense in wasting time worrying about everyone looking and laughing at your big bald spot when you’re wearing a hat. Like Chris Kyle said, you can’t scoff at what ya cannot see. I might put on the highest SPF I can find on the tips of my ears because they always end up getting burned by the sun.

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