Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
You might not be able to tell this from my picture, but once upon a time, I had the thickest hair in the world. My head had a thread count that was higher than you’d find in the finest hotels in Europe. We’re talking thousands of follicles per inch. I didn’t have a hairstyle so much as I had fur.
But it wasn’t the kind of fur that makes something cute the way it does for puppies and guinea pigs. Oh no, mine was the kind that just makes someone look stupid and have a sweaty forehead all the time. There was essentially no way to make it attractive. I really had just two choices: I could get a crew cut and end up looking like a Monchichi (a burr-headed, Japanese monkey doll popular in the ’70s), or I could let it grow out, a style my own mother called the “space helmet.”
My hair didn’t grow long, which would have afforded me the opportunity for a hippie or headbanger look; it just sort of grew poofy, and it got big. It was so big at times that my brothers referred to me as “Gizmo,” and if you don’t remember who that is, I’ll remind you:
Also popular back in the ’70s was a cartoon based on the Harlem Globetrotters. One of the Globetrotters had an afro so immense it was like Batman’s utility belt, storing everything the ‘Trotters could possibly need. That was Gizmo. They’d be stuck, and they’d be like, “Gizmo, we need a boat!” Gizmo would reach into his hair and pull out a boat, and off they’d go. That’s how big my hair was. It wasn’t an afro, but it had so much poof I could have pulled a boat out of it.
So when young people nowadays see my baldness and tell me, “Oh, you poor, pathetic man. We’re so sorry for your loss,” I just have to laugh. I honestly couldn’t be happier about being bald. I haven’t paid for a haircut, comb or brush in years, and it takes me all of about three seconds to get ready in the morning.
Of course, I wish the hair, upon retreating down into my head, hadn’t started coming out of my ears and back, but I can’t complain too much. I mean, I agree that it is a tad ironic that even as my scalp has grown fallow, the rest of me has sprouted, but truth be told, it’s not that big a deal, provided I keep a shirt on.
And there are even some advantages to being bald and hairy at the same time, I suppose. For instance, in the shower, if I only have one bathing product, I’m covered: I can scrub my head with soap, or I can just shampoo my entire body. It’s wonderfully convenient.
OK, I’ll admit that’s not much, but we bald, hairy guys take whatever we can get.
Sadly enough, once upon a time the shower advantage was about all we hirsute folk could get. Now, however, thankfully, there’s something else we can take pride in: Evidently, according to a recent report in the journal Biology Letters, “hairier skin may be the key to avoiding being bitten by bed bugs.”
Scientists in Sheffield, England, conducted a study showing that people with more body hair were better at detecting the parasites as they crawled around, due to the tiny nerves connected to each hair. The study also showed that having ample body hair slowed bedbugs down as they looked for somewhere to bite into the skin.
This is important news because another recent report presented at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s 60th annual meeting addressed the very problem of rising bedbug infestations in America and the finest hotels in Europe. It seems that industrialized nations, which thought they’d eradicated the pests years ago, are being invaded by pesticide-resistant bedbugs from the tropics. Can’t we just build a wall already and keep them out?
Anyway, I bring this all up because I had reason to fear bedbugs recently: I drove from New Jersey to Colorado and spent a night at a cheap motel in the Midwest. I was concerned, but being a hairy guy, I nevertheless slept well, knowing I was better protected than most people. Sure, I was a little worried about my hairless scalp getting bitten, but the room came with a shower cap, so I just wore that all night.
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