Don’t judge a man by his combover

I have reached that stage in life when hearing a dreaded diagnosis comes with the territory. I got one the other day. It was from my barber.

I have reached that stage in life when hearing a dreaded diagnosis comes with the territory. I got one the other day. It was from my barber. She said it was time to consider a new hair style. It appears more and more of my hairs are requesting Do Not Resuscitate rather than life extending treatment. As a result, their absence has emboldened the liver spots which grow ever stronger. So it seems I need the stealthiest of hairstyles. The ’do that brings back the look of vim, vigor and vitality. I am talking, of course, about the noble combover. So starting today I will let the strands on one side of my head grow ever longer, and when the time is right, I will part my hair just above the ear and, swoosh, full head of hair.

I had other options of course. I thought about using the spray-on-hair that has been given rave reviews on late-night infomercials. While I don’t think anyone would be the wiser, I would know in my heart of hearts that it was fake.

I could also go in another direction entirely and shave my whole noggin. In fact I actually tried this a few months after I moved  to Vashon. The logic was I didn’t know anybody on the island and if I ever wanted to see what I looked like sans head fur, that was the time to do it. Even before I put the razor down, I could see if I kept my head shaved I would never meet anybody on the island. People tend not to strike up a friendly conversation with someone that looks like a walking mugshot.

Certainly as a last resort I could always let my hair grow naturally and walk around looking my age. Yeah, right, how ridiculous would that be. It would totally make the new dolphin tattoo on my ankle look out of place.

So with no viable alternatives I made the unilateral decision to try this awesome, over-the-top hairdo. But I didn’t go into this venture without doing my homework. Combovers are serious business. Just ask Donald Smith and his father Frank. Back in 1977 they took out a patent (US Patent number 4,022,227) on a unique three directional combover. So if you want to style your mane in a hirsute menage-a-trois, you have to pay the Smith’s for the privilege.

I also searched out and talked to some veterans of the one-side fits all haircut and they told me about a few rules that I should abide by. The first rule of comb-over club is nobody talks about combover club. Think of it as an omerta for guys with male patterned baldness. The second rule is wind is your enemy. If it hits you at the right angle, you can go from an uber-cool coiffure to something that looks like a frizzy weather vane sticking out of the side of your head. And rule number three, hairspray. Lots of it. By the time you are done, your tresses should be harder than a bike helmet.

However, one of the pitfalls of this type of hairstyle is when narcissism raises its ugly head — literally. When this happens, a man can go from tasteful sleight-of-hair design to full Donald Trump. Trump does for hairstyles what Jeffrey Dahmer did for cooking. Seriously, how self absorbed must you be that the entire world thinks you’re wearing a diseased merkin yet you parade around like it’s a work of art on your head? I am surprised he hasn’t tried to patent it.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the world of merkins, a merkin is artificial pubic hair. These faux-filaments have been around since 1450 or so. Apparently it was tres chic to shave your real hair to cut down on various infestations. You know what, on second thought I shouldn’t say The Donald’s bungled bouffant looks like a merkin because it’s an insult to fake trouser beards everywhere.

So gentle reader, when you begin to see your hairline ebb, don’t despair because just like Yogi Berra’s barber said, “It ain’t over til it’s over, and then you do a combover.” In fact, I’ve become so enamored with this style I’ve recommended it to everyone, men, women, children and pets. I am so convinced this is wave of the future I am campaigning to change our name to the Vashon Maury-Island Beachcombover.

— Chris Austin is the circulation manager at The Beachcomber, a cyclist and a writer.