When chemotherapy caused my hair to first thin, then suddenly begin to fly off my head like a flock of geese rising off a frozen pond, people were kind of circumspect at first. That is, they hesitated to mention it--to me, at least--as if my newly bald pate was a trifle embarrassing, like an open fly or a spot of mustard on the tip of my nose.
Then I opened my big mouth.
As soon as I brought the subject up in a column, I swear I could hear my friends rubbing their hands in anticipation as they realized that all bets were off.
"OK, he's talking about it. We can, too."
While I got my share of "Oh, you look fine" and "Gee, I hardly recognized you" remarks, along with a whole raft of double takes, the biggest task and topic seemed to be determining just who I most resembled in my hairless state.
Bruce Willis and LL Cool J (I think they were kidding) were a couple of suggestion I found kind of pleasing, along with a handful of back-in-the-day icons like Kojak and Yul Bryner. I wasn't quite so happy to be compared to the meth-making science teacher from "Breaking Bad, but there's a whole bevy of smooth-headed younger dudes, including Vin Diesel and Stone Cold Steve Austin that I could hope to imitate. Kind of.
But I've got to be honest.
I've forced myself to look long and hard at my startling new image in my morning mirror. No hair. Mustache gone, too. Eyebrows thinning and soon to follow.
It took me no time at all to realize who I now look like. I remember him well, because I avidly followed his adventures when I was a boy.
For To the uninformed, uninitiated and those of you who just don't care enough to keep track of such important things, Tooter Turtle was a cartoon character who appeared in the early 60s as part of a just-mildly popular show called "KIng Leonardo and His Short Subjects." I liked him because he was a determined dreamer who wanted to experience new things. Moreover, like me, he was a dedicated time traveler, though he employed the magic of Mr. Wizard the Lizard, who he visited in a cardboard box sitting at the base of a tree, instead of the beat-up SVU and bag o' maps I use to visit the past. When Tooter's time-trip became a catastrophe, Mr. Wizard would rescue him with the incantation, "Twizzle, Twazzle, Twozzle, Twome; time for this one to come home."
Whew. What a turtle.
You can see why I relate to him. And look like him, too.
The past week or so has been absolutely jammed with outstanding music, with super groups like the Kewanee Community Band, the Kewanee Community Choir, The Kewanee Klassics, and Hammer and Pick appearing at cool venues in Kewanee, Galva and historic Bishop Hill.
Go ahead, tell me there's nothing to do around here. I dare you.
Of all the columns associated with my name, I don't think there's ever been one that received more positive comments than one I didn't write. I refer, of course, to the warm, encouraging piece written by my friend and associate Rocky Stuffelbeam last week.
One thing, though.
Rocky got a little carried away when he referred to me as the "star" of our 60s garage band. As a rhythm guitar player/backup singer, I was the ultimate utility player, willing to play endless three-chord riffs and try to hit the high notes in exchange for a steady gig.
Rocky was, however, spot on when he said there was still more music to make.
Thanks, buddy. I wish I'd written that.