From our Classic Archives, originally published in January/February 2004
“I’m going to be a bald bride!” I moaned to my fiancé. Visions of Mr. Clean in a flowing white gown danced before my eyes. “This isn’t fair.”
Chemotherapy was the final blow in a barrage of bombs that interrupted our engagement: cancer diagnosis, intense juicing therapy, hysterectomy. Though Bob and I had survived the other trials and enjoyed a stronger relationship because of it, I still fell apart over losing my hair.
Thankfully, Bob maintained his sense of perspective–like, at least I’d be alive to get married–as well as his wit. As we traversed the road of baldness together, we laughed instead of crying and grew closer still in the process.
They say time takes its toll on a body
Makes a young girl’s brown hair turn gray
Well, honey, I don’t care, I ain’t in love with your hair
And if it all fell out, well, I’d love you anyway.
Twelve days after the first treatment, my hair started shedding. Initially, I only lost small clusters, but it was enough to prompt a to-the-shoulder chop of my mid-back waves. Within days, bulky clumps fell out with each brush stroke, and a week later, my once-full mane was patchy and thin. The moment I’d been dreading had come.
“Why don’t you dye it green first,” quipped my fiancé with his boyish smirk, “and then have it cut into a Mohawk!”
“Right, a 33-year-old punker!” I chuckled along with him. Though I didn’t follow Bob’s advice, his amusing comment enlightened me: If I have to go through this, I might as well have fun with it.
Thus empowered, I decided to use this situation as a chance to “go short,” something I had been previously too chicken to try.
“What are we gonna do, hon?” asked my hairstylist as she fingered my sparse strands.
“Can you try something short and cute, first? Not a shave?” I replied, glancing at my grinning fiancé in the adjacent chair. He was still pushing for a Mohawk.
Maggied clipped my sickly locks into what could have been a sporty Halle Berry style if my bare scalp wasn’t so obvious.
“Never mind,” I sighed, looking at myself in the mirror. “I don’t have enough hair.”
“Go for the cue ball!” Bob volunteered. “I’ll do it, too.”
I shook my head and smiled, appreciating his enthusiasm and support, but unable to follow through.
“How about leaving that much?” I showed Maggie a quarter-inch space between my thumb and index finger. She trimmed my wisps until I had a virtually bare head sparsely populated by quarter-inch-long, light brown spikes.
I studied my reflection. Without my hair, my head looked rather small, and it was perfectly shaped—no dents or wrinkles like I had seen on some bald guys. My skull was also white, glaringly so. A definite line divided than face and hair-blocked, unbronzed scalp. My chin looked more pointed, my cheeks more gaunt, my eyes more intensely blue.
“You’re beautiful,” declared my fiancé, noting the uncertainty with which I stared at myself. “Look at those eyes!” A one-dimpled smile creased my face as I gazed first at Bob and then at the bald woman in the mirror.
A few days later, my fiancé made good on his offer and had his thick hair razed to a similar length. I sat in the barber shop watching black tufts fall to the floor, loving Bob all the more for his tangible display of unity. Afterwards, we imitated Velcro and “stuck” our spiky heads together for a photo.
Taking pictures soon became a highlight of hairlessness, and we looked for opportunities to exploit my naked head. Bob photographed me cheek-to-cheek with a friend’s five-month-old, equally bald infant. At a family gathering, my male cousin and I posed with sunglasses and matching shiny skulls. A frame embossed with the title “Odd Couple” is now home to a print of eyebrow-less, eyelash-less me, wearing a long, curly, bleached blonde wig, posting next to Bob, who is puckering up for the camera. My favorite photo, which I have proudly displayed in a heart-shaped frame, is one of my shaved fiancé kissing my likewise buzzed head.
On our wedding day, I didn’t have cascading locks crowned with a tiara or a veil covering my blushing face. Instead, a spray-painted white hat darned with silk roses hid my boyish peach fuzz. But the tears in Bob’s eyes as I walked down that aisle told me it didn’t matter if his hair was longer than mine. He loved me anyway and just wanted me to be his wife.
—By Gail Fay from California