Back in 2002, my “significant other's mother” was undergoing cancer treatments at Columbus, Ohio. After reading some info in the waiting room, and talking about it with Anna (who also has been donating her hair), I decided to start growing my hair. Not just somewhat long (which I had frequently done from my college days through my school board days), but really long. It has to be at least 10 inches long to donate. I seem to remember reading that they often get donations from young girls, but sometimes there are folks needing wigs who had gray hair, and thus gray hair donations were encouraged (especially from men, who have not tried to color their gray). I knew I wanted to do my part to help out, and I consider this my tribute to Anna's mother, who passed away later that year (she was very nice to me).
It took about four years to grow my first “crop” of hair. When it was finally ready to “harvest,” I went to the local beauty college ($5 haircuts!) to get it cut, and then took it to a wig store at the mall that was a local collection point for “Locks of Love” donations—it was really easy to hand the braids over to them. It just so happened that I was giving the final exam that night in my 2006 Constitutional Law class (I know—some say it wasn't nice to “mess with their heads” that night by drastically changing the look of my own head). Needless to say, they were quite surprised to see what I had done on our last night together (and luckily, they still managed to pass the exam).
So this second crop began four years ago. I did get a minor trim at one point just to even it up somewhat as it began to grow. It has been long enough to donate for awhile now, but I wanted to get through my 30th year class reunion at UC and my 25th year class reunion at WVU, both of which occurred this month. Many of my former classmates were surprised to see my long hair. I tell folks it is easier to have long hair today than it was back then, because with my receding hairline, it helps to keep the hair out of my eyes!
Today I rode my Harley to the local beauty college (they don't get too many guys in there, much less bearded, long-haired, leather jacketed, motorcycle guys). Once again, my hair was gathered into multiple pony tails, which were then individually braided, and banded on each end. Then, the scissors came out, and I got to hear the sound of scissors cutting hair that I had not heard for the past four years. I could even feel the vibrations as the hair was cut.
Since the wig store at the mall is no longer there, I had done some Internet research to find out how to donate my locks. Rather than “Locks for Love” or the program ran by the Pantene hair products company (both of whom don't really make gray wigs), I found a group called “Hair that Cares” in New York City. Corresponding with them via e-mail, I was assured that they not only accept gray hair donations, but they actually make gray hair wigs. I took my locks to the post office and mailed my donation to New York. I hope this company is legitimate.
My class of students tonight were quite surprised. Tomorrow at work will be very interesting.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having long hair, but I will be able to sleep in longer tomorrow because my shower time will be shortened (no dealing with tangles, no more conditioner, etc.). I'd like to say that I will continue this practice and make another donation in four years, but we will just have to wait and see. I am concerned that my “crop yield” was smaller with this harvest than the previous one. I fear that the long hair might cause me to go bald sooner. So in response to Connie's question, I'm interested in doing it again, but I'm not committing myself to it at this point.
Thanks to all of you for all the positive comments, but I don't feel like I did anything all that difficult. It is quite easy to perform this deed—in fact, I think it is fun. Plus I saved a lot of money on haircuts over the years (and many of you know how cheap I can be!).
I would like to encourage others to consider “hair farming” for themselves. As my dear friend and UC alum Brenda Myers mentioned, you never know when you might find yourself with cancer and in need of a wig (Brenda—I'm so glad you beat the cancer!). If I can't grow a good head of hair anymore, I need someone else to pick up the baton and continue the run. Think about it!