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The bald facts about the hairless

(ran HT, CI, PT, SP, NP edition)

I belong to Bald Brothers International. Well, not really, but maybe we bald pates should organize. On the other hand, that would be admitting that they who call us "Curly" have gotten under our skinheads.

The fun starts with children who call kids with glasses "Four-eyes," lame kids "Gimpy" or kids with big ears "Jug-ears."

All good, clean fun, of course. When I was a boy, some kids had their heads shaved to prevent lice. We called them "baldy sours." It implies that baldies are defective or at least somehow inferior. People seem to need someone or some group to whom they can feel superior.

It was my first day as a teacher in a public school. When the bell rang to change classes, the students walked toward the door. On the way past me, a girl said, "Hi, Curly." I gave her a beatific smile but muttered to myself, "Hi, Buckteeth."

I needed the job, so I chalked up her rudeness to ignorance. She later proved my evaluation right.

In another school-related incident, I told my class that I was thinking of dying my hair. The class wag piped up with, "Too late, Mr. Flood, your hair has already died."

A word of caution! Being bald can be dangerous. Once I played 18 holes of golf without a hat. I got sun-poisoning. Every day, starting at my temples, my head swelling went farther down my face. The doc tongue-lashed me into never doing that stunt again. "Could be fatal," he warned.

Some people never grow up. I am resigned to that. But I picked up some clever repartees. One: Grass doesn't grow on a busy street. Two: Next year I'll be the tallest man in the room. There won't be hair between my head and the ceiling. Three: Well, you can't have hair and brains, too. (Watch out for this one. The other guy may come back with, "Don't worry. You don't have either.") Four: God made a few good heads and put hair on the rest.

If you have a religious bent, the Bible contains a caution about making fun of baldies. Check out Kings 11, Chapter 2, Verses 23 and 24.

When our granddaughter Sara was 8, she asked me what happened to my hair. I told her that it had dropped onto the floor, that her grandma had picked it up with the sweeper and thrown it into the trash bin. "Oh," said our pride and joy, completely satisfied that Grandpa was telling it as it is.

One day, while waiting in a department store for my wife and daughter whose "we'll only be a minute" turned out to be 30, I bought a wig and put it on. When they came back to where we were to meet, they walked right past me. So much for wigs. I wanted my family to recognize me even if it was only by my shiny dome.

A couple of random thoughts. Maybe a rabbi invented the yarmulke to cover his lack of hirsute splendor. Did you ever wonder why our forebears chose the bald eagle to represent our great country?

So if you call me "Curly," duck my tongue!

Thomas Flood lives in Spring Hill.