Can’t be vain on Ash Wednesday

My Uncle Eddie happened to be visiting a few years ago on Ash Wednesday, and as I donned my coat and told him I had to excuse myself because I was off to church to get ashes, he quipped, “Well, I hope the priest doesn’t have any trouble finding your forehead.”
Real cut-up that Uncle Eddie.
By then, my forehead was pretty close to uniting with the back of my neck.
Gee, was it that long ago that under similar circumstances my mom had said, “How do you expect the priest to put ashes on your forehead with that Beatles’ haircut?”
I’m a member of the hair generation. From a DA like Elvis, to a mop top like the Beatles, to shoulder length curls like the latter day George Harrison, hair defined us. So losing it was particularly traumatic. I managed to get into my 40s before it began, but when it did, there was no stopping it.
I was lamenting my newly discovered hair loss one day at the office when my friend and mentor Dick Cosgrove commiserated, saying, “Ah, I know the feeling well. You get to the point where you’re washing more and more face every day.”
Uncle Eddie — remember him? — was less sympathetic. “You used to have wavy hair,” he said one day, “now it’s waving goodbye.”
My Uncle Buddy (Uncle Eddie’s brother) was at least helpful. He told me if anyone mentions my thinning hair to say, “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street.”
That worked until someone responded, “It doesn’t grow on concrete either.”
About the only comfort I did get was from Frank Gerosky, one-time Pittston Area guidance counselor who has since passed away. He offered the following:
When God created heads for men,
He wanted to be fair.
So some of them he filled with brains.
On others, he put hair.

Except on Ash Wednesday, of course, when it’s ashes. Hair or no hair.

Ed Ackerman