Fire It Before It Quits

Today is my 40th birthday, which I guess is a milestone of sorts. I'm not a big one for birthdays or holidays in general, but life is pretty good. I appear to be in good health, and I don't really have any age-related worries, except I really need to make sure I finish SpyParty before I turn 50[1][2].

However, my hair was definitely starting to thin. My hairline has always been pretty far back on the sides, and my hair is pretty fine in texture, but I started noticing it was thinning on top a couple years ago, and I decided I'd grow it out one last time before shaving it all off, following the philosophy espoused by my friend Alan Yu: Fire it before it quits!

Mine hadn't quit yet, but it was definitely sending out résumés and coming in to work in nice clothes after a suspiciously long lunch.

It's an understatement to say I don't put much effort into my hair even in the best of times. I'm usually in one of two modes: 1) letting it grow out, or 2) shaving it close. The stimuli that triggers a change from one state to another can be something as simple as getting a sunburn and being annoyed. For a couple years there Jen was cutting it in a short-but-not-shaved style, and I did an okay job of passing for an adult. I've had hair down well past my shoulders, dreadlocks[3], ponytails, been compared hair-wise to Leif Garrett, and I've shaved it with a number 2 clipper attachment.

I would say 95% of the time while I was growing it out this last time it looked absolutely awful. Of course, that one day out of twenty when it looked cute was kind of fun.

I decided my 40th birthday was a good deadline for my silly thinning hair, and I enlisted my 7-year-old daughter Clementine to do the deed. Of course, it decided to look reasonably cute on its execution day[4]:


If I may be so bold (or narcissistic), I must say this last growth period did manage to yield what is probably the most flattering picture of me in existence, taken by Vince Diamante during my GDC lecture this year. So, I would definitely say the 19 other bad hair days around that time were a price worth paying.


Anyway, so I picked Clementine up from school, and brought her home and showed her how to use the clippers. She was excited to shave it, especially after hearing stories about how she was afraid of me for 15 minutes or so when I shaved it when she was only a year old.


I even captured some video:

You gotta love that first laugh.

Here are the results with the number 4 attachment:


I'll probably go shorter after I get a little sun up there. I'd say it's totally acceptable, and I look forward to not ever thinking about it again. It's good to return to shaving. The other great thing about shaving your head is when you wash your face, you just keep going up and around your head with the soap; no hair products necessary.

The remains (which collected a leaf as they blew around the driveway):


Clementine did a great job keeping the plan secret for the past few days, so when Jen showed up at the sushi restaurant where we were meeting for my birthday dinner, she was completely surprised.

Oh, and I'm in good company, at least trichometrically speaking:

Jon.jpg Clint.jpg Dc.jpg

If you were spellbound by this installment of Chris Hecker's Hair, be sure to check out the last installment over on Jen's blog.

  1. You may think that's a joke, but I worked on Spore for 6 years!
  2. Oh, and also I stepped on a nail today and need to go get a tetanus shot.
  3. Very few white guys can pull off dreadlocks, and I was definitely not one of them.
  4. What expression are you supposed to use when you're taking a picture of yourself in the bathroom with hair for the last time? I couldn't decide.
This page was last edited on 17 September 2010, at 02:15.