Let's be clear. By any objective analysis, I'm not bald. Indeed, I'm told I have a thick - if greying - thatch that any sane man of my vintage would be proud to have flapping about atop his head.
Well say what you like, Mr Objective-Analysis. Like an anorexic is fat, I'm bald.
I need to explain. My Dad went bald before we even met. He was 30 when we first shook hands (I'm told I held onto his finger in a manly, British fashion on the day I was born) but it wasn't until I was about 10 that it first struck me that, in addition to passing his unusually thick-thigh and myopic-eye genes to his only son, he might also have let slip that poisonous baldness gene into my DNA. So, even as I experimented with David Bowie sticky-uppy hairstyles in my early teens and, later, the Duran Duran fop-top-mullet combo, I was convinced my days amongst the truly hirsute were numbered. As if to prove my terrifying theory, I started receding at 18 and, notwithstanding that I now had a hairline which matched that of my maternal grandfather and uncles (hairy bastards, all, well into their seventies) I thought it prudent to warn everyone in my immediate social orbit (and way, way beyond it) that I would soon be tress-less.
It was only when I made Facebook contact with several friends I hadn't spoken to since the late 70s that it became clear just how far and wide I'd broadcast my obsession, and just how early I'd started. Every one of them queried my photo. Is that a wig? Thought you said you'd be bald at 25. Are you still being a fucking bore about your fucking hair?
Well I am still a fucking bore about my hair even though it hardly matters any more. I mean, I might still offer the occasional leer in the direction of a pretty young thing in Starbucks, but she sure as fuck ain't looking at me. No-one looks at old people. Ask my daughters. But I'm married, have been for a long time, and when my wife says she'd leave me if I went bald, I simply don't believe her. That's not grounds, is it? How shallow would that be? I wouldn't leave her if she stopped having fabulously wealthy parents.
No, I'm all set; don't need to impress the ladies any more. Like I ever did. But when you're 19 and you think you're going bald, the only thing on your mind is the ridicule, the loss of attractiveness, the premature ageing, the long lonely descent into forever-bachelorhood. Because women don't go for bald men, do they? And if they do, a 19 year old can't see it. A 53 year old knows no-one gives a shit.
And, if you need any more convincing, consider this. In 2002 I decided to do a show at the Edinburgh Festival which confronted baldness (ahem) head on. It was called Losing It and was a self-indulgent pile of shit with a few funny bits. I decided I couldn't convince the audience of my obsession (and its obvious hilarity!) unless I was bald myself. So, facing my worst fears, I shaved it all off. It was horrific, believe me, like losing a limb, but it had to be done. And this is how everyone I knew reacted: first sighting, fuck me!, oh my God, ha ha! Three minutes later - forgotten, and never mentioned again. You see, unlike the superficial idiot with the shaved head, they only saw the bloke they'd always known. The hair didn't matter.
None of which means that losing it at any age - particularly when you're young - isn't traumatic. Of course it is. Given a choice, my guess is that no-one would go bald. And why not do something about it if you can (avoiding combovers, crappy pieces and weaves, of course)? But, ultimately - and here comes the schmaltzy moral to my story - it's about you, not your hair. You can be a dick with hair and a charmer without. A genetic predisposition like that says nothing about you.
That said, I've got a fucking fantastic head of hair (I'm told) so who cares about those slapheads?