Watching people compare their 2009 looks to their 2019 looks on social media has been a strangely disorienting experience, not least of all because the photograph I’ve been using of myself for whatever official purpose necessary — judging the Eisners last year, for example — are from earlier than 2009. What can I say? I… don’t age…? Or maybe that’s just the story I tell myself.
(To be fair, it’s not like I have publicity photos, per se; I don’t like being photographed, at all, and the one I’ve used so often was simply taken on a trip that I thought I looked reasonable in. I think it’s probably from 2007 or so, if memory serves.)
I have aged, of course. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like something that is particularly visible, for the simple fact that I’m bald, and I have been since before 2009.
There is something genuinely liberating about having no hair. Think of the decisions about haircuts and styles I’ve avoided, not to mention the haircut disasters I’ve missed, if nothing else; I’ve thankfully managed to skip out on having ill-advised moptops or dye jobs purely because they weren’t possible. (Otherwise, I know they’d have happened, sadly.) As heartbroken as I was upon discovering my baldness, via an errant photo of the back of my head about 20 years ago or so, I’ve never quite gotten to the point of wishing I had hair again, or pretending it was still there. No wigs for me, friends.
With a lack of hair, however — or, more likely, a lack of receding hairline — comes a strange kind of agelessness, where people seem unable to guess how old I am, and I look essentially the same now as I did 10 years ago. Or, at least, I did before I grew a beard; a 2018 addition that was part sad-beard and part wanting to make a change, it has all the white hairs and age that would otherwise be on the top of my head. People keep telling me it suits me, which is nice, but that could simply be manners and politeness.
Either way, were I to put a photo of me from 2009 and one from 2019 next to each other, I suspect people wouldn’t see a fine aging or anything similar; instead, they’d say with some justification, Oh, I guess he grew a beard.