Hold On to Your Hair!

Hold On to Your Hair!

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Hold On to Your Hair!

Aperson has two legs and one sense of humor, and if you’re faced with the choice, it’s better to lose a leg.

Charles Lindner

By far, the funniest day of my life was Sunday, January 26, 1997.

Jim had invited me to go to a Super Bowl party on this day. Although I felt a chemistry between us during our previous meeting, I was really unsure if this invitation was a date or a friendly get-together. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Boston and were trying to figure out what to do next before the party that evening. Eventually, we decided to walk a couple of blocks to the Hancock Building and take in a view of the beautiful city from the observatory.

Well, it was very windy—or perhaps I should say it was gusty. I was thinking to myself, Do I hold on to my hair? No, because then he will know that I am wearing a wig. So I decided to just go with the “bearing down” technique. Well, this wasn’t the best decision that I had ever made. The next thing I knew, the wind had whipped my wig right off my head. I stopped dead in my tracks as I felt the cool wind on my lovely bald head. I tried to remember that someone had told me once that I had a “really nicely shaped head.” It is so easy for people with hair to say that! I turned my head slowly to look over my shoulder, only to see my hair rolling down the sidewalk like a tumbleweed in the desert. Jim was still walking and talking ahead of me, ignorant of the chaos that was unfolding behind him. After what seemed like minutes, Jim turned around as he realized that I was not with him. As our eyes met, Jim was one with me in my secret.

I turned to run after my hair as it was really getting away from me now. Quickly I remembered that there was no running allowed after a hip replacement last year. I asked Jim, “Would you get my hair?” Jim took off after it, and I found myself thinking of how much that brown mass looked like a squirrel running through piles of dirt. Please, God, don’t let it go into the street. That thing cost me a hundred bucks, and I still have to go to a party tonight. Jim did rescue my hair. In fact, he held it over his head like a trophy and yelled back to me, “I’ve got it!” Terrific, I thought sarcastically, and waved him back. If anyone had caught this on videotape, I surely would have won the ten-thousand-dollar prize.

Jim returned with my hair, and his eyes seemed to say, “Don’t worry. Here’s your hair. I didn’t see anything.” He looked like he was dying for me and wishing that I did not have to go through this. I apologized to him as I could only imagine what it was like to be in his shoes. I shook out the dirt and tried to reposition the wig back on my head without a mirror. I couldn’t stop laughing, and tears began to cloud my eyes as I could not believe that all of this was happening. I asked Jim, “Did you know that I had had cancer?” “Yes,” he said. Our mutual friend had told him my story. I said, “Did you know I was wearing a wig?” “No,” he said. I said, “It’s a pretty good one, huh?”

We continued on our walk up to the Hancock Building, which is made of reflective glass. I caught a look at myself in one of the mirrors and realized that my wig was on the wrong way. It also wasn’t really sitting down the way that it should. I could not get into the ladies’ room fast enough to repair the damage to my helmet. I sat down on the cold floor and just laughed and laughed. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell some of the people who loved me. I don’t think that I came out for a while. Jim told me later that he didn’t think that I was going to come out at all!

It occurred to me that my late Aunt Ginny, who had an outrageous sense of humor and struggled through her own cancer battle, may have had something to do with this. I imagined her looking down from heaven and telling me to “Cut it out!” I was trying to be someone that I was not and attempting to hide the painful truths of these past years. I had put on a nice outfit and made up my face. The wig was a pretty nice-looking one as far as wigs go, and I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be a twenty-eight-year-old woman going out on a date without worrying about how to tell someone that I had survived breast cancer and a recent bone marrow transplant and what his reaction would be. I had gathered all my courage to accept this invitation from Jim, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions that I had ever made. I have experienced true acceptance from this man and a compassion that is hard to find. Jim is beginning to laugh now when we talk about this story. I think he was traumatized for a while there. Who wasn’t?!

Kathleen M. Kelly

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