It appears that I am balding.

I have been trying to convince myself that this is a ridiculous notion for a good while now, and that my forehead has always been high, but the steady migration of hair from my head to the floor would suggest otherwise. Unless they are enjoying a brief sojourn as recompense for the arduous task of clinging to my scalp, I can only assume that they’re now gone for good. In fairness, they have been forced into some truly ridiculous styles in their time, and so the decision in favour of a mass exodus seems only reasonable. I may simply have to give them up as a lost cause.

But I don’t really want to. I don’t think it fair that I, a twenty-year-old almost-man, should have to part with such a dear companion so early in life. I apparently have no disease (such as alopecia) to speak of, so that excuse is off the list, and I certainly don’t think that inventing a chemotherapy story by way of explanation is in particularly good taste. I got a blood test to check for anything abnormal that might explain the situation, but received a casual text back from Cripps informing me that there was nothing wrong, or at least nothing wrong enough to receive the attention of a doctor. I very nearly replied saying, “Except the fact that my hair is still falling out, you dolt!” but thought that, just possibly, wasn’t the best way to deal with the situation.

However, if it is not something traceable by a simple test, then there’s a good chance it’s just ‘genetics’ – and that is far more difficult to escape from than a simple, treatable fungal infection (which apparently can cause hair loss). Given that my father has a full head of hair (as, I am told, did his father), I am forced instead to assume that it is the fault of my maternal grandfather. Fortunately for him, he is a touch too dead to be overly affected by the fiery wrath of my whining self-pity. My mother is the cause of all the things that have become crap with my body since puberty, including the seasickness and perpetually cold hands. If I also inherit her intolerance to caffeine before Finals roll around, I am going to be most displeased.

I deviate. The point is that my mother’s side of the family are Jewish. As you may be aware, many Jewish men lack hair almost as much as Gordon Brown lacks charisma (although at least we had some to begin with). At the time of our lives when we should be trying to prove ourselves worthy of a mate, we instead find ourselves looking way beyond our age and, consequently, not as desirable as we otherwise might have been. At least, we aren’t when it becomes obvious that our hair (or lack thereof) is not so much a style choice as a necessity. And I fear that I wouldn’t make a particularly convincing skinhead when trying to find a good excuse for my all-too-visible forehead as I chat to a delightful (yet, I can only assume, shallow) young lady. As least I don’t suffer from the inversely proportional amount of hair so often found coating the bodies of young Jewish men, causing them to appear like some form of simian Semite (try repeating that quickly).

So why is this problem linked to Jews as inextricably as our apparent allergy to peaceable neighbours, or the idea that we keep gold under our tiny hats (though I have never met a Jew who kept money under their kippah – presumably we are all too thrifty to risk losing it)? I can only imagine it is our obsession with interbreeding. To the Jewish mother, a woman is good enough for her son if she is a) Jewish, and b) capable of producing latkes second only to her own; whilst a man is good enough for her daughter if he is a) Jewish, and b) an accountant/Doctor/holder of a degree with ‘–ology’ at the end of it. Do you sense a theme developing? My father was only allowed through the net because of the love for scotch he shared with my grandfather, and his help in producing me. A grandchild to brag about is worth ten son-in-laws who can recite the shema backwards.

Jews are as insular a bunch as you’ll find – just look at the cliques that are J-Soc and Cavendish Hall (with some considerable overlap). During my first year, which I spent purposefully distancing myself from Cav’s North London royalty, I watched a forced and almost hostile conversation transform into a gossip between old friends simply because one party mentioned in passing something identifying themselves as a Jew. It is notoriously difficult to convert to Judaism, more so than with all other religions – especially into the more Orthodox traditions. There are all sorts of tests involving Old Testament competence, proficiency in Hebrew, an understanding of the subtle nuance a well-placed word of Yiddish can add to an otherwise mundane sentence, and a comprehensive knowledge of the varied uses of smoked salmon. And still, many sects won’t accept you – even if you get all shmaltzy and shray “Oy vey!” to the himl. (Ten points if you have any idea what that means. Answers on a postcard.) Yet in trying to preserve the noble race of “God’s Chosen People” (a fairly nice position to find oneself in, incidentally), we may just end up destroying ourselves.

Balding is among the least serious of our hereditary problems. Jews propagate many genetic diseases, and they often combine within one individual. I have a friend with several very Jewish blood diseases all at once, which really can’t be fun. My grandfather had something called Factor XI Deficiency, which broadly means that his blood simply did not clot. While not often too much of an issue, is most certainly becomes so in the event of surgery or an accident. There is also Maple Syrup Urine Disease. While pissing a popular pancake topping may seem quite good fun for a while (especially as a money-saving endeavour on Shrove Tuesday), it rapidly becomes more sinister upon learning that – apart from the maple syrup-scented urine – symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, seizures and mental retardation. Fantastic.

All this, simply because we refuse to let natural selection do its thang. In making sure that our precious blood does not become too diluted, we aren’t giving the things wrong with it a chance to dissipate; instead, we are concentrating it and encouraging the mutation of a mixture of ailments which – though often not life-threatening on their own – may swiftly become unmanageable.

Of course, it is wrong to single out Jews as the problem is common among all racial groups, but often Jewish parents require a slightly stronger prod than most before accepting that perhaps they need to exert a little less pressure on their children to marry ‘in’. I have seen far too many relationships end prematurely because “my parents wouldn’t approve”, or “I can’t marry them, so what’s the point in wasting time?” This needs to end. There are a great many problems inherited by staying stringently within our own kin, and hopefully as the world becomes a more multi-cultural place, some may be eradicated. But it’s up to us. Dare to be different. What does it matter if you’re not from the same background as another person? Other cultures are fascinating – the Discovery Channel tells us as much. It’s boring sticking to the well-trodden road.

And if you happen to come across a good toupée manufacturer, do let me know.

Tommo Fowler

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