Take a stand - to wig out or not?

March 15, 2020

Last week I went shopping for a wig. I’m in the middle of chemotherapy, and my own hair is giving out signals that it will be packing up and moving on out soon.  Some days I can hear my hair getting thin.

I’ve been through this process before. The last time I had the Telly Savalas (star of the TV series “Kojak”) look was about 10 years ago. Within a week I went from a full head of hair to a cue ball. When you are told you are going to be bald, you can do two things. You can go into denial, or you can go into denial. Naturally I chose denial and completely ignored the happening. As a result, I shed hair all over Sussex County like a Golden Retriever during its mating season, which is basically all year round. Blaming the dog is a very plausible explanation when you pretend to be brushing the hair off your coat as it lands all over the items on your conveyer belt. People believe it, because everyone has a Golden Retriever. One problem solved, many more to go.

Back then there were few options when it came to covering a woman’s bald head. However, many movie stars did give their names to different artificial hair. I went with the Raquel Welch line, which consisted of two styles and two colors, brown and blonde. The brown was the shade of a buffalo hide or a couch from the ‘50s bought in one of those minimalist stores. And the blonde was a screaming white Indy 500 look. Both colors looked as if they had been picked out at the paint section of a home improvement store.

The style of this pretend hair was also limited. Mostly, the wigs consisted of layer upon layer of feathered Farrah Fawcett artificial locks or the Carol Channing model of short-cropped synthetic tresses. Neither of them had any movement. Your head could swivel around 360 degrees, but your wig would defiantly remain in place. I think they were developed originally at the National Hurricane Center.

In any case, by the time I left the shop back in that era, I was wearing a wig that made me appear to be Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped in 1974 by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army in Berkeley and nicknamed Tania, and forced to hold up a bank. Today, if I were wearing the same wig, I would be picked up in about two seconds by any Homeland Security force.

So last week after circling the parking lot, because that is what you do when you are in denial (it’s either that or bake bread and I didn’t have an oven handy), I eventually parked the car and went into the wig shop.

There they were, row upon row of Styrofoam heads with mops of hair sitting on top. Every color, every style was displayed. I couldn’t help remarking about this array until the Styrofoam head I picked out and reached for actually turned out to be the saleslady.

It’s kind of crazy trying on wigs. You can change your looks so quickly it’s a wonder that anyone recognizes themselves. I kept reminding myself that a lot of people who still have their own hair wear wigs anyway. Just for a change of pace. 

But that chemo result just seems to laugh in the background. Eventually I picked out a wig that I thought looked closely like my used-to-be hair. And then it came to getting the wig stand to put the wig on, which I refused to buy. My daughter questioned what in the world was the problem with a $7 wig stand. 

It simply was my way of saying, I don’t have to be reminded. The wig would remain in the box until I wore it. Yes, sometimes denial is a good thing. It’s as they say, my stand. Problem solved.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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