Nearly 60 years after discovering The Dick Van Dyke Show, I still watch the classic sitcom, but some of the punchlines haven’t held up particularly well.
Or maybe I’m the one who hasn’t held up so well.
You may recall that gag writer Buddy Sorrell (played by Morey Amsterdam) always made longsuffering Alan Brady Show producer Mel Cooley (played by Richard Deacon) the foil of his rapid-fire baldness jokes.
The zingers were HI-larious — until my early thirties when I abruptly discovered that my luxurious hair was starting to take a vow of poverty.
Thanks to the wonders of genetics, I suddenly became self-conscious and began worrying about the unfair stereotype of bald people being dull, over-the-hill, post-virile fuddy-duddies.
Dagnabbit, how I wanted to fire off a stern letter- to-the-editor chastising those haters! Or at least beg my wife to do it for me.
Of course, some offenses were even more “in your face” than Buddy Sorrell’s jabs. I mean, there was a whole Broadway musical celebrating hair!
At least playwrights stopped short of producing equally tasteful, nondivisive musicals such as “Two Healthy, Tumor-Free Breasts” or “My Four Successful Children, None of Whom Married a Low-life Loser” or “How My Company Failed to Embezzle the Entire Pension Fund.”
The ironies of being hair-challenged are maddening. Old classmates struggle to recognize you, but bill collectors, IRS auditors and charity solicitors can spot you at 1,000 paces in a blizzard!
At one point I vowed to scrimp and save $5,000 so I could get high-tech hair treatments; but when I started visualizing that stack of “Benjamins,” the idea of buying a powdered wig and $4,995 worth of junk food sounded better.
Well, a wig was one option, but there were others. You know how Archimedes bragged, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it and I shall move the world”?
I settled for “Give me a big enough baseball cap and I can convince the world I’m a studmuffin.”
Sporting a glare-reflecting noggin has affected countless aspects of my life. I’ve held tight to my current job for nearly 25 years partly because I’m terrified that if I started pounding the pavement for a new job, all the windows would have signs that declared, “Chrome-domed freaky people need not apply.”
Although snappy comebacks such as “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street” and “God made only so many perfect heads; the rest He covered with hair” are available to me, I generally just grin and bear it when people bless me with (allegedly) good-natured ribbing.
A gang of young punks taunted him with “Go up, thou bald head,” so he summoned two bears that gave them a good mauling. (“And those pick-a-nick baskets had better be kosher, too!”)
I’ve managed to meditate and maintain a downright Zen attitude. Forget one hand clapping. What’s the sound of one hair waking up and shouting, “Hey, where did everybody else go???”
I wish I could write more about this single capitulation to the aging process, but I must tune in The Dick Van Dyke Show before I miss Rob Petrie’s HI-larious stumble over the ottoman.
Ouch! Hey, Archimedes — can you fetch a lever, a fulcrum and an icepack? Stat!