By Christopher Cudworth
It is my job here at We Run and Ride to expand your mind on a number of subjects related to running and riding. Today’s illuminating blog is about both a real and imaginary place called Hat Head. The real place is a village in New South Wales, where I would like to visit because I find such places interesting.
By contrast, the Legendary Land of Hathead exists only on the borders of your mind. Hathead is also frequently called a Bad Hair Day, and it feels like a place from which there is no escape, especially when you wander into Hathead unintentionally. So let us explore that imaginary place, and come to terms with living in Hathead, a real or imaginary place.
The Legendary Land of Hathead
‘Twas a land with no seeming end. For travelers could wander to and fro, through heather and gorse, fair winds and raging gales, and still find themselves on the wide moors of Hathead. Some wondered if it was actually a land you could never leave, both accursed and enchanted. Yet a merry band of wise souls did know the way out of Hathead. One was heard to mutter; ‘Tis the road of Reality and Humility you must take. Anything less will wind you back round to Hathead.”
And in recent years, it hath become a road more traveled, bare and ancient though it may be. But to the surprise of many who go there, no shame could come of riding or running on it, for it laye naked and true as a bare razor, and twice as sharp for those who knew its secrets. But it led the way out of the Land of Hathead. And those with the courage found that the road led to a place called Freedom. From shampoo. From combs. From hair dryers and gels. Some go there not by choice, and must live with the opposite of Hathead. For those people we hold admiration, for they live beyond convention in every way. But for those who live in Hathead and care not, the Legend lives on.”
It’s all true
Yes, the legends are true. There truly are paths that lead out of Hathead, the land where your hair always looks like hell from wearing baseball caps and cycling helmets, or else weird lines appear in your locks when you remove your Giro or Specialized aerodynamically grooved lid.
Hathead can also occur during the Walk of Shame, after you’ve shacked up with some fellow cyclist or runner following a mutally great performance at a race. Then the pos-tace beers take over and before you know it you’re lathering each other up in a hotel shower and piling under the sheets for…well, we digress. The point here is that Hathead comes later, while leaving the hotel with the half-sweaty stretch cap pulled down over your embarrassingly lusty-looking hair style. You pretty much wish you were invisible, yet you feel damned happy. A PR and getting laid in the same 24 hours is always good. But if you were to actually take that hat off your head, even little children would point at you in the hotel lobby and shriek, “Oh my God Mommy. That person has Hathead!”
And that would be embarrassing because you know that you look exactly like a guilty person at that point, and you didn’t really mean to take off your hat and expose your Hathead, but all that hair piled up on once side of your noggin’ was just feeling so, unever, you know? So you pulled off your cap and happened to glance in the hotel lobby mirror and wondered who that lopsided loser in the mirror really was and you suddenly realize it is you. You, with Hathead.
A reformed resident of Hathead
I used to live in the Land of Hathead with some regularity. Blessed with exceedingly thick hair as a youngster, I also chose to wear a baseball cap almost everywhere I went. Well, that’s not a good combination. Thick hair does one thing when you put a baseball cap over it. If forms that weird Continental Shelf just above your ears, then it flairs out like a hairy waterfall over each ear. For the rest of the day, no matter what you do, that Waterfall Over the Ear look persists. That is called a terminal case of Hathead.
It was excusable when you were actually playing the sport of baseball. Hathead is part of the deal.. along with scratching your nuts and spitting things onto the floor of the disgusting dugout But once you leave the baseball field, Hathead is terminally uncool.
When people say these words to you: “Nice Hathead” they are seldom if ever being complimentary. So you have a choice. You can live in the land of Hathead and face ridicule, or you can try to break free in a variety of ways.
The science and politics of Hathead
Scientific studies have shown that women regard men with Hathead as less attractive, less intelligent or charming and generally less desirable.
To make matters worse, medical studies funded by the Heartland Institute show that Hathead has actually been known to result in penis shrinkage in some men. But then, all studies funded by the Heartland Institute point to the fact that men are being emasculated on every front. So you have to consider the source.
The rape and pillage of Hathead
Most men have simply learned to avoid the realm of Hathead with one simple act: They shave the hair on their head so short that Hathead is not possible.
This solution might have started with the pre-eminent athlete of the last 25 years, one Michael Jordan who, upon discovering hair loss that would have made him look too old for his role as Best Basketball Player Ever, decided to shave his dark dome completely clean. And he looked awesome. More than awesome actually.
The list of athletes who have escaped the Land of Hathead are many these days, led by pioneers like pro cycling superstars Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner, both of whom escaped the Land of Flathead by shaving their heads. They are shorn and happy for it.
Of course, there may be drawbacks to having no hair as well. Chris Horner crashed and took a straight shot to the noggin’ during the Tour de France a few years ago. He was so concussed no one knows how he rode the next couple dozen miles, because when he completed the stage, he asked, “Did I finish?”
That’s a different kind of Hathead. That’s called Crazyhead. They kept Chris in the hospital a few days while the concussion wore off and then flew him home ot recover in earnest.
It is doubtful a layer of hair would have done much to keep Horner from getting a concussion. Hockey players are some of the hairiest athletes on earth and they’re getting concussions at an increased rate it seems. Most players are going round on their 3rd or 4th year of getting concussions. If you shaved their heads and then showed a blue light on them, their brains would show up like fluorescent indicators of heat and stress. But man, when a hockey player without a shaved head takes off their helmet, that is some of the worst hathead styling you can ever see. Along with a playoff beard, hockey players are officially full time residents of HatHead, the place where people go because they just don’t care how they’re hair really looks.
Fortunately there are millions of men who prefer to avoid all this Hathead stuff. They’ve taken the sensible option and buzzed their heads if their hair won’t grow naturally or if they simply think they look better sans locks than having a regularly unkempt pile of flattened or unhealthily bound hair up there.
The condescending phrase “Bald is Beautiful” has been replaced by calculating silence, for the whole bald thing is no longer an issue. Men with self-confidence don’t buy into Hathead sub-issues such as comb overs or toupees. No more hair transplants or cornrow spots on your scalp when the transplant wears out. All of that is part of the Hathead psychology in which you’re covering up your hair out of insecurity, desperation, laziness or guilt. Or the opposite; you love your hair too much and get all insecure when a baseball cap puts a pressure ring around your noggin.
Gone for some, but not forgotten
If you’re a person who runs or rides and find yourself suddenly stuck living in Hathead, there are quite a few ways to get out of Hathead fast.
The quick use of a finish line water hose can help, and fast. So can a richly deserved towel. Then dry your hair and fluff up the Hathead. You may still a little bit of that dreaded loo, going on, but at least people won’t think you’re a permanent resident.
Because if you think about it, just about every homeless person you know takes up some form of residencw in the Land of Hathead. Hathead is a fashion statement for bums.
You can help the homeless, but you don’t have to walk around looking like one. Either find a way to cure Hathead when the run, race or ride is through, or else free yourself from the bonds of Hathead forever, and go shave your head, unless you’re a woman, in which case you always have the pony tail. Then all is always forgiven. Because pony tails rock. Especially under a baseball cap. Which is where we started. See, everything comes full circle if you let it.