Is it time for you to re grow your Hair?
By Patti Rutka Stevens
The older I boat, the more of my friends enter the hair re-growth program. Offered only to Maine whitewater enthusiasts, it is appearance benefits, rather than tax incentives, that inspire many former hair boaters to enroll. Maine now sponsors over-40-somethings who are willing to commit a certain patch of follicles to Rogaine, and who want to look better on the water, if not actually boat more scary drops. This bodes well for the whitewater community as a whole, considering that it will be less embarrassing for all at the take-out when helmets are removed, or when swims happen and rescues are conducted by 20-somethings.
The loss of hair in the older boating community boating seems to strike more male boaters than female. It seems that while testosterone—thought to be responsible for hair growth and general burliness in life—declines steadily in males after the age of 17, whereas females often have a rise in testosterone through the menopausal years. In any event, the program is gaining popularity as the baby boom generation ages and tries to pull off maneuvers it was once capable of without a thought for tweaked tendons, sore abs, and cranked backs the next day.
If you answer yes (or no, depending on the question; you figure it out) to any of the questions below, you, the aging decked-long-boater, or C-1-er who has switched to a Shredder, may want to consider entering the hair re-growth program:
Has my hair been shoulder length or longer much of my adult life?
Does my hair look better wet, tangled, and helmet-squashed than blow-dried and coiffed?
Would I know where to put gel if someone gave it to me?
Will my hair look all right at the bottom of the run regardless of the line I pick through Humpty-Dumpty?
Can I get L’Oreal conditioner at Berry’s and then use it in the bed and breakfast overnight before boating the next morning?
Does my use of paddling vernacular betray that my glory days were ten or more years ago?
Did I have any excuses more creative than "my dog ate my homework" the last time I swam after getting trashed in a drop?
Have I become more polite on the water, surrendering a hole to another boater under the pretense of wanting to watch and learn, when really my low back is niggling at me about how it’ll feel tomorrow?
Do I miss my big hair from the 90’s?
Take heart, young boaters: there is life after thirty-two and ½. While it may not be as hairy, it continues to be endlessly fascinating on the water and off, in a boat or out of it—but remember: stay in the boat, stay in the boat, stay in the boat. Your hair will thank you.
Patti Rutka Stevens lives in Saco, Maine, and has paddled a number of different crafts, from OC-1 to C-1 to Shredder to kayak on a number of different rivers, and professes to be expert at none of them. She does, however, have a good time on the water and can still roll and surf a little. She aspires to hair boating in the next lifetime.
Email nick [at] noumbrella [dot] com with your questions, comments and concerns.
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