By Fran LoBiondo
A Columnist for the Grapevine Newspaper
A decade and a half and many wigs later, our columnist has kept her sense of humor.
There’s no peace like a good hair piece. When I was diagnosed with cancer, my hematologist told me that the treatment I was about to get would have side effects.
“You will lose your hair. Permanently.”
(Before you read on, let me assure you that I won’t always be writing about cancer. It’s merely the reason I began to wear a wig, which is the topic for today. I’m a humor writer, not a tumor writer.)
I did not believe my hair would truly abandon me, but I cut it short and called my good friend, Marissa. She’s great on Just-in-Case missions.
“Come with me to buy a wig,” I begged. “I don’t want to go alone. Remember when I picked out my own prescription sunglasses? I looked like the masked Oreo Cookie Man. I prayed for three years for someone to sit on those things.”
“Be there in 10 minutes.” she said.
I aimed the car to a wig shop that came recommended by the Breast Cancer Bridge Program at Inspira Hospital in Elmer. As it happened, the town was having a community fair where the main street was closed to traffic and throngs of shoppers picked over vendor’s tables.
The sun was shining. Life went on.
Driving around the periphery looking for parking, I almost lost my nerve. How could life go on as usual when a good future for me was a lifetime of baldness? We found parking and went into the wig shop.
Marissa is the best companion to shop with. She has a wry comment for every occasion, and she usually has a coupon. But we both fell silent when we found ourselves surrounded by plaster-white head mannequins wearing wig styles from Sophia Loren to Lucille Ball. I felt as if we had been transported to the tombs of Pompeii.
The shop lady pulled down some boxes from the shelves. She could not have known that small heads run in my family. It’s true. My cousin’s husband called us “chick-pea heads.” No one wants to sit next to me in a group photo, because they look like caricatures, comparatively. It’s tough to find a small hat, let alone a wig.
I tried the first wig on. It was too big and too dull. The second was too big and too red. The third one was okay, color-wise, and it was labeled Petite.
“This one really pinks you up!” the sales lady enthused.
I bought the petite wig. As she was wrapping the box with ribbons, the shop woman fixed me with a severe look and gave me this sage advice:
“Now honey, when you’re wearing this, don’t go near a hot oven, because it can catch fire.”
We barely made it out of there before we ignited, laughing like hyenas.
Three days later, reality had set in and I felt beset by fear of the future. The phone rang.
“I’ve been thinking about you,” Marissa said.
Aw, that’s so sweet, I thought. Friends really are forever.
“And I’m thinking you’d better not do any baking, because if I have to come over there with a broom and put out your wig, I give up on you.”
Sorry, did I say forever? I meant fair weather.
The years come and go, and so do the wigs. I wore the first one to cover my head for a while. Then I went au naturel with my real hair, fuzzy as it was. It feels better. But whenever I wore a wig, I got, “Oh, you look so pretty. You should wear that all the time.”
“Really?” I think, “Because it feels like I’m wearing Davy Crockett’s coonskin cap!”
But I smile and say, “Why, thank you very much.”
Because, wig or no wig, when you give up your hair to save your life, bald can be beautiful, indeed.