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Jewish World Review June 23, 2000 / 20 Iyar, 5760

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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Consumer Reports

Hairs The Thing -- TODAY, students, we will examine the strange phenomenon of human hair, a subject I am sure we can all identify with in one way or another since most people either have hair or they don’t. Hair is one of those things that tends to elicit emotional reactions from many of us. For those who want it, they never have enough. For those who don’t want it, they have too much. When it comes to hair, as in so many other ways, we people just never seem to be satisfied.

Of the various organs, bone, blood, tissue and other icky stuff which comprise the physical make up of the human being, nothing is quite as obstinate as is hair. For one thing, it never grows where you’d like it to grow and will always grow where you do not want it. Should you remove it from an unwanted area it will, in all probability, return -- just to show you who’s boss.

Hair has a mind of its own. Most of the time the hair on your head refuses to stay where you combed it -- brush it to the left, it goes to the right. Brush it to the back, it falls to the front. Wet it down, blow-dry it, mousse it, spray lacquer on it, gel it, curse at it -- no matter. Hair will do what it damn well pleases. The multibillion dollar hair grooming industry continues to thrive solely on our inability to manage our own hair.

No other creature on Earth obsesses over hair the way we do. Do you think camels really care about what their hair looks like? Can you see one camel turning to another and saying, “Oh, for heaven’s sake -- just look at those split-ends on my hump! Well, I’m certainly not going out of the tent looking like this!!” And I doubt whether horses are too concerned over which side of their necks their manes fall on. While it’s true that the cat spends a great deal of time licking its hair (or fur) it’s actually more a matter of personal hygiene than personal grooming. If that weren’t the case, then we’d only see cats licking themselves in front of mirrors. In fact, a cat doesn’t really give a flip what it looks like as long as it’s clean. Let that be a lesson to all of us.

Thousands of years on this planet and we still don’t know what to do with our stupid hair. Should we grow it long? Should we cut it short? Wear it down? Wear it up? Should we grease it up or dry it out? Should we twist it or knot it? Should we curl it or straighten it? Dye it or bleach it? Or shave it off altogether? We men might think that women spend more time on their hair than we do, but it is simply not the case. Not only do many men spend as much time as women fooling with the hair on their head, but they have all that facial hair to play with, too. Just think of the variations of beard, mustache and sideburns there are.

Of course the big deal in facial hair today for “with it” dudes is the little mustache/goatee thing around the mouth. And if you want to do it right, it has to be close cropped --- it should look like it’s only been growing for about four days. That’s to give it that grungy convict look.

Also, for us guys, as we grow older we lose hair in places we used to have it and gain hair in places where we never had it. All of a sudden my ears have decided to become wheat fields. My eyebrows have gone completely wacky too.

But now we come to the big hairy question, or rather I should say the big hairless question. What happens to the hair on the back of men’s calves when they get old? Where does it go? Why does it disappear? I remember as a kid noticing with horror that the back of my dad’s legs were bald! When I asked him about this, he told me that the hair on the back of a man’s calves wears off caused by years of rubbing against his trousers. It made sense to me at the time, but now that I am myself suffering from “receding calf hair” I just don’t buy that explanation. There’s no logic to it.

For one thing, why isn’t the hair on any other part of my leg “rubbing off?” Why isn’t the hair on my thighs “rubbing off?” After all, my thighs have been in trousers just as long as my calves have. And why isn’t the hair on my arms, chest and back “rubbing off” from all the years of wearing shirts? Here’s another thing, all my life I’ve been rubbing my back with bath towels after a shower or bathing. Using the “trouser rubbing” logic, by now I should be absolutely bald back there, but I’m not. I actually have more hair on my back now than I ever did! Hairy back, bald calves. I don’t get it.

I suppose if I wanted to, I could have all the extra hair that grows in my ears and eyebrows transplanted to my calves. I’m certain I could find somebody around here to do it for me -- after all, I live in L.A.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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© 2000, Greg Crosby