Politico ran a rather vapid-yet-interesting article on the hair (and/or lack thereof) of would-be vice president Joe Biden:

The most common hypothesis is that he received a hair transplant, where follicles from the bushier back of the head are grafted onto fading spots closer to the front of the dome.

In 1987, a Washington Post reporter asked him to confirm the theory. “Guess,” he responded. “I’ve got to keep some mystery in my life.”

A quick Politico survey of stylists and hair transplant surgeons — some of whom have followed Biden’s career path for years, while others didn’t know about him until yesterday — found that there was little mystery.

“When he had darker hair it was pretty obvious, he had larger plugs,” said Dr. Michael Beehner, medical director of the Saratoga Hair Transplant Center in New York. “With the lightening of his hair, it looks much, much better now.”

The article was originally interesting to me because I’ve always found the notion of people (by which I mean men, because it’s so commonly accepted of women) bolstering their appearance in ways that are supposed to look natural and yet pretty transparently isn’t. I am thinking of an old Colosse County Commissioner who was 80 and looked it but nonetheless colored his hair a very implausible dark shade of brown. Or people that after having gone gray suddenly come in to work with brown or black or whatever hair. Or comb-overs in general.

I decided when I was young that if I was ever going to color my hair, I’d do it in a transparently fake color like light blue or purple. Ironically, the only two times I ever have colored my hair was once gray for a costume (though it stayed gray for weeks) and once brown for odd work-related reasons that may warrant its own post at some point. On the other hand, I can also think of it like a tattoo or some other body decoration wherein if the guy thinks that he looks better with it than without it who am I to argue?

But then I saw pictures of Biden at the convention with Obama and my mind went off on a different trajectory altogether. Even though I follow politics relatively closely and knew who Biden was and all that, most of the pictures I’d seen of him were from the front. I hadn’t realized that despite the fact that he looks full-headed (with assistance, of course) from the front, the entire crown of his head is shiny-bald.

So that got me thinking… if he’s going to go to the trouble of covering up his baldness in front, why do it so half-assed? Particularly in this age of Rogaine which covers precisely the part of the head where Biden remains bald. Biden would look much better bald than in his current state. At some point in the 2000 election, Gore mysteriously lost the growing bald patch in the back of his head and you know what? It worked! The bald patch was far more conspicuous and distracting than its mysterious disappearance.

Then again, maybe I’m the only person that finds the bald patch so distracting. For some reason, I find that style of baldness the be by far the most unsettling. Far moreso than horseshoe hair, excessive devil’s peaks, or pure baldness. There’s something weird to me about a person appearing not-bald from one angle and then obviously bald from another. Or maybe it’s sorta like the first paragraph of this post… the trying to cover something up (the goingness of bald) and yet doing so unconvincingly. So much worse to try and fail at such things than not to try at all. Yet for the most part they aren’t even trying. Except for cases like Biden, they’re not planting hair in the front it’s simply still existing there (at least for the time being) and they’re simply declining to take it off. Though then again, isn’t that essentially what a combover wearer is doing?

Me? If it comes down to it, I’ll actually cut the front off before I’ll sport a bald crown with hair surrounding it. I’ve already decided this, probably about the time I was deciding on the blue/purple that I never followed through on. I’m not too proud to try Rogaine first, but if that doesn’t work I’ll shave it all off or get a buzzcut before I let a bald crown empire slowly overtake the rest of my head. I guess that’s my personality… either do it completely or not at all.

If Biden does become Vice President, it’s really going to be oddly difficult for me to stomach his differing point of view on this particular issue.


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