"Photographs of bald men make me want to hurl!" Susan Sontag, On Photography
Every couple of months I get my hair buzzed with a number two clipper blade. It really is the hairstyle of choice for today's busy gentleman. Whether you're impersonating Speed-era Keanu Reeves or joining a gang of sun-safe skinheads, the number two buzz will do the trick.
Because I hate doing anything to improve my appearance (hey, I'm in a "marriage-like relationship", so I don't need to impress anybody), I tend to put off getting my hair cut for as long as possible. I like being scruffy, and it adds interest to waking up in the morning: what shape will my hair be today? Eventually I get sick of it, and trot along to get it cut. The problem is, my scalp generally hasn't seen sunlight for some time, and has turned a rather unpleasant shade of white. This is fine in itself - a week or so later and my scalp will be the same delightful hue as the rest of me - but it has an unusual side-effect that is not fine, not fine at all.
Put simply, my newly-shorn scalp reflects light. Not to the extent that I blind passing motorists or summon rescue planes, but there is still discernable reflection. And nowhere is this reflection more obvious than in photographs, particularly when a flash has been used. Then - oh, and you'll laugh at this - then I appear to be bald. Or if not bald, then balding. Often the top and front of my head seem to be exploding with some kind of divine light, while my hair retreats beyond my ears. Other times, it looks as though I've had a short back and sides that's left me with nothing but short back and sides.
Now, I don't mind admitting that I have a few grey hairs, and were I actually balding then I'd admit that too. I'm not a particularly vain person, but I do prefer that photos of me have at least some passing resemblance to the actual me. The thing is, the only times I have my photo taken are on special occasions - birthday, Christmas and the like. And when do I usually have my hair cut? That's right, just prior to these special occasions. So, with very few exceptions, my family's photographic record of the past couple of years shows a Tim who has apparently just returned from a Kojak look-alike competition where he was mistaken for Patrick Stewart. If I do end up going bald, then people will assume I have been that way since my mid-twenties. If I don't go bald, people will look at old photos of me and assume that I was bald but that I have since had hair implants or started taking extract of Greg Matthews. With every snapshot of my stupid grinning face, a false past is being created. And I don't want a false past being created!
Obviously I must either stop getting my hair cut short or, if I continue to do so, stay away from cameras until my scalp's light-reflecting properties diminish. There is also the wig option, or the baseball cap option, or the decapitation option, which I think I'll pass on. Maybe I should grow my hair into a dense, black, Ray Martin-esque helmet into which light, and passing spacecraft, will be inexorably drawn. Or maybe, when somebody points a camera at me, I should dash it to the ground and accuse them of trying to steal my soul. Behave like that often enough and people will stop even inviting me to special occasions. Problem solved.