Mark O’Brien: A hair-raising metaphor for progress

These days you hardly ever see a balding man trying to hide under a comb-over, and we should consider this to be progress.

It’s not on the scale of world peace, but still, it’s a step forward for society, certainly better than those hideous hair twists and turns so common among middle-aged men not so long ago. (And standard coiffure for Donald Trump even today.)

The vanishing comb-over is a reminder that the world is getting better in many ways.

It’s also a reminder that progress is incremental, a forward march that shouldn’t be overlooked even as the pessimists scream daily that all is wrong with the world today. Remember your individual forward steps and hope for more optimism, less fear.

Maybe you smoked cigarettes but finally quit years ago. Today, you suddenly remember, “Hey, I smoked for years,” and then you do the math and realize you saved several thousand dollars — and extended your life expectancy — by quitting. See, more progress.

Or you recall how you talked yourself into thinking that Herman Cain would be the ideal presidential candidate in 2012, taken as you were with his simplistic “9 9 9” chant of an economic policy.

Thank goodness that woman came forward with her claims of sexual harassment and Cain’s goofy campaign slid south faster than the fast food he used to sell. Wow, there’s a disaster averted.

Speaking of disasters, the comb-over was standard for many male Baby Boomers as they fought off any signs of resembling their elders.

Confession: I was one of those guys, thin strands of hair plastered across an increasingly wide space of pink head. I had to act like a sailboat and tack back and forth across the street to cope with wind that threatened to bare my chrome dome.

Eventually I admitted my baldness, gave up the comb-over and found myself actually feeling better about myself.

Life was so freeing without the crutch of a comb-over, just as ex-smokers find themselves liberated from the need to carry cigarettes, a lighter and a hangdog attitude with them wherever they go. And even conservatives must feel better that Cain’s ludicrous campaign bit the dust and they still have Barack Obama to kick around.

Maybe it’s too soon for Millennials to start going bald, but I hope they skip the comb-over.

Rather than repeat Baby Boomer mistakes and bad habits, let them find new ones — and new solutions.

Guest Author


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