Sunday, March 7, 2010


The other day I was subbing in a second grade classroom. I’d worked at that particular school a handful of times, and in that very classroom once. Many of the students remembered me and greeted me with a smile when they walked in the door.

“Hi, Mr. Baldy!”

Let me explain . . .

I am not bald. If anything, I might be described as “balding,” but that is a decades long process that has only recently begun. As far as I am concerned, I have a fine head of hair and will be “balding” for the next three decades or so.

But perhaps I protest too much. Theories abound of hair loss through the generations, and presumably I can blame my maternal grandfather for grooming a fine ring of hair around his generally bald pate. If that is any indication, then I am either a bald man, or bald man to be. Either way, I embrace it. Cuts down on shampoo. Also barbers, though I haven’t been to one of those since 1999.

I was cultivating a really embarrassing ponytail back at the end of the last century, and it needed regular maintenance to keep it stylish. For that I would pay a paltry sum at a well-known hair-cuttery chain store that did nothing more than spritz a little water on the hair before hacking away. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had pulled out a bowl to cut nice even bangs.

Since then I trim it myself, every six weeks or so. At the point I might be called shaggy I stand in the bathroom and reduce it to about two millimeters. Nearly to the point of baldness, I suppose.

The students (from the early part of our story) called me Mr. Baldy not solely because of my threadbare hair threads, but because there was a fellow who was also a regular substitute teacher who went by the name. It wasn’t his real name. He was legitimately bald, and I guess his real name was too hard to pronounce. So he told them to call him Mr. Baldy.

And I deal with it to this very day. I don’t know if it is because we are both guys, or both have beards . . . we certainly aren’t the same height, since I have at least a few inches on him, but maybe from the diminutive perspective of the pupils we look the same. So we share the name.

During my lunch break on my most recent “Mr. Baldy” day I hacked onto the teacher’s computer. Technically, it wasn’t a hack attack, because I remember the default passwords the school district uses from when I used to work there full time. (Hmm . . . perhaps I am outing myself here.) If I had nefarious goals perhaps folks should be worried about the safety and security of their network, but all I wanted to do was use the computer.

It was either that, or go to the staff room and hang out with other teachers. I generally don’t like to do that. Teachers often ostracize unknown subs, and even when they don’t, all they talk about is teaching. It makes me shudder.

I had a devil of a time going online and searching for celebrity news and home brewery recipes. The computer was acting very oddly and I kept getting access errors. It turned out that every time I hit the space bar the keyboard ignored me, and every time I pressed the “m” I got “mn.” That last sentence would have looked something like this:


How was I going to spend my free time without a proper functioning keyboard? Just about every Web site I might have visited was a dot-com, or, in my new world view, a dot-comn. I couldn't exactly go shopping on amnazon.comn. So I tried to compose email messages to my friends and loved ones that didn’t require the “m” key. Or the space bar.

I wrote to Kristin, who thankfully has a dot-org email address.

“Help!” I wrote. She didn’t understand.

“911!” I replied. She thought I was joking. This is a natural result of my many years of acting ridiculous. I joke, I taunt, I rib, I exaggerate tales to the point that their veracity might be questioned and then I post such tales online. Except the following two things are frighteningly true.

One: I am balding.

Two: the space bar did not work.


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