Gone with the wind.
Besides the sudden, unexpected ability to fit into the same cool clothes you wore in junior high school, a most popular side effect of chemotherapy is, of course, hair loss. Now, I was pretty sure I could beat this mini-plague. After all, I might be a bit thinner on top than back in the long-haired 60s, but I've still maintained a decent, non-graying head of hair. We were enjoying a visit to our grandsons at the North Carolina shore a couple of weeks after my first chemo treatment, and tentative daily tugs on my curly locks seem to indicate they were in it for the long haul. Until one morning.
She: Have you looked in the sink?
Me: No, why?
She: Either you've been grooming a chinchilla or you're losing some hair.
Sure enough, my heretofore homebound head-hair was abandoning ship like a suntanned tourist on a big boat with a broken-down bathroom. Soon, it was literally blowing away in the breeze as we walked down the beach.
It was time for a haircut. A real haircut.
Luckily, our beach place is located a scant few miles from the back gate of Camp Lejuene, home of 40,000 members of the United States Marine Corps. Ergo, the area is absolutely dotted with businesses dedicated to the care, well-being and entertainment of said young marines, including tattoo parlors, "dance" halls, used car lots and, of course, 7-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day barber shops. I picked a likely looking place that had the proud globe-and-anchor emblem painted right on the window.
Barber: How much you want off?
Me: All of it.
Barber: All of it?
And so, for the first time since I was, well, old enough to grow hair, I was without it. I looked in the mirror.
"Well," I thought, "Maybe bald is sexy."
A few days later, some overheard comments from a couple of Nice Ladies on the streets of Galva gave me the answer.
NL1: What a shame.
NL2: Yeah, I mean, who knew his head was shaped like that?
So it goes.
You gotta be perky for the turkey.
One thing we've discovered about this whole cancer treatment thingee is that you're going to feel rotten for a little while, no matter what, so you might as well go someplace fun for when you start to feel better.
Son Colin and his family teeter on the edge of the front range, rocking in the wind that roars off the flatlands this time of year. We noted that the temperature difference between the great northern plains and the beach we visit in North Carolina was 50, yes 50, degrees, but we were still excited to see the kids and transport Kitchen Cooked Potato Chips to the natives. So off we went, heading north via Dubuque, Guttenberg, Decorah, Harmony, Rochester, Monticello, St. Cloud and Fergus Falls in a straight-but-slow route that would have probably had Father Marquette shaking his head and kicking his canoe in disgust. After a scenic 600-mile trek driven by the one of us who is not currently taking mind-altering pain meds, she, my bachelor brother-in-law and I reached our favorite area stopping point, a shabby-chic hotel that includes all that is really needed for life up north in November, a pool, a hot tub and--wait for it--an indoor miniature golf course. This enables us to stay out of the way as needed, plus gives me a chance to whittle my handicap before the U.S. Runt-Golf Open. We checked in late, and I was the first to crawl to the breakfast area for coffee the next morning, where I was confronted with the normal habitués of the place, dozens of warmly dressed construction workers who gather to pound down dozens of doughnuts and otherwise overstoke on calories before heading out for a cold day's work.
It was not unlike sharing space with a room full of giant sloth bears. You know, able to be tamed, and not moving too fast yet, but quick to anger and attack if you tarry over the scrambled eggs or waffle iron a bit too long.
"These guys are ready for some Thanksgiving," I mused. And as I did, I thought of these interesting Thanksgiving facts and figures, which are sure to whet your appetite and sharpen your mind.
•The wild turkey is one of the world's fastest birds flying short speeds up to 55 miles per hour and running up to 30 miles per hour.
•The biggest turkey known to man weighed in at 86 pounds.
•Turkeys have about 3500 feathers at maturity.
•45 million turkeys were eaten on Thanksgiving Day last year.
•The first meal eaten on the moon by Neil Armstrong and Ed Aldrin was a turkey dinner consisting of foil packets containing turkey and all the trimmings.
May your Thanksgiving dinner be tasty and your naps be just long enough. As for me, I am truly blessed by the friendship and prayers of family, friends and strangers.
And I know it.