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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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A hairy tale (07/25/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

A hairy tale

Since I stopped chemo earlier this year, my hair has been growing back. Slowly. Hair is supposed to grow at the rate of half an inch a month. Today at work, Chris and Rickie measured mine, and said it was “a hair over an inch” long.

It’s been interesting watching it grow. At first, I could tell something was there because I could feel it, but I still looked bald, bald, bald. Then it started to grow, but was flat to my head. I looked like Howdy Doody, whose red hair was painted on his wooden head. A bit more hair grew, and I now look like a 12th century monk. If I had a widow’s peak, I’d be a dead ringer for Eddie Munster.

I started this process with a vision of me glorious in a Halle Berry pixie cut. But there’s a lot more hair on Halle’s head than you’d imagine. I don’t think I’ll be there until at least my birthday in December. Good thing I saved all the knit caps my sister made for me.

I did buy a wig for those early bald days. But it now languishes in the bathroom. I was pretty happy with it, until I saw a photo of myself in the wig on Easter. There I was with John and the three grandchildren, all of us holding the Easter eggs we’d found in the yard. I looked for all the world like Linda Richman in the Mike Myers “Saturday Night Live” sketch “Coffee with Linda Richman” (Talk amongst yourselves!). I thought, “why is Linda Richman, a nice Jewish lady from New York, hunting for Easter eggs with my grandchildren in my back yard in Minnesota?” Then I realized that it was me with my wig on.

For a long time, when the knit caps got to be too warm to wear, I had a collection of baseball caps that I could color coordinate with my outfits. But all of a sudden one day I noticed that my hair was growing at a faster rate on the back of my head than on the front. I wondered if hair needs air and sunlight to grow, and being under a hat all the time inhibits that growth.

Of course, that notion could come from my childhood belief that men who wore hats all the time subsequently went bald, because all my dad’s friends who wore hats were bald. Bernie Nolan was a great example. We and the Nolans had similarly sized families, and I was friends with the oldest girl, Kathleen. They lived a town over from us that had a huge lake to swim in with a nice beach, and would invite us often. I swear that even when all the Nolans went to the beach, Mr. Nolan wore a fedora, which is, compared to a baseball cap, quite a dressy hat. Baseball caps back then were thought to be for actual baseball players, or for kids. No adult man would wear a cap. Not when he had a fancy snap-brim fedora. So I thought Bernie Nolan was bald because he didn’t take his hat off enough (except in the house, where there is no sunlight). I still secretly hold with the theory.

So now I’m encouraging my hair to grow by letting it have lots of sun, watering it daily, and massaging my scalp and pulling on the hair just enough, at least short of pulling it out (which I feel like doing on a regular basis these days).

Want to laugh til you cry?

My sister and I went to see the GRSF production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It’s hilarious, and doesn’t require much of a knowledge of Shakespeare beyond a cursory acquaintance with Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth or Hamlet. Three wonderful and energetic actors—Chris Mixon, Christopher Gerson, and Brian White— star in the production. They perform at breakneck speed as they try to cram all of the plots of Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays into one performance that lasts, with intermission, about two hours.

There are so many references to pop culture, movies, music and such that we were sure we missed about three-quarters of them. Director Melissa Rain Anderson did a skillful job of making every minute full of laughs. I laughed so hard I started to cough, and was glad that I had visited the ladies’ room before the show began. (As my friend Candy would say, “I laughed so hard tears were running down my thighs.”)

The Great River Shakespeare Festival 2012 season closes August 5, so there is still time to try to snag a ticket. New to Shakespeare? You’ll love this play. But you have to love to laugh. 


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