Upon a Christmas of certainly another lifetime, the man who had time-shared my wife with me exercised his option, leaving me impaled by my own naiveté, shaken and alone amidst the rumpled life I had once known, now wrestling with a diagnosis of probable cancer.

At first, my oncologist didn’t speak, he simply stood opposite me considering what I had imagined was the probable, hideous outcome of my tests, what I could hideously expect in my future. The longer he stood there considering the human wreckage before him, my mind shot around the corners of my wounded skull, as I supposed the length of his silence would indicate the severity of my anxiously awaited news. What misery had so consumed him that he could not easily speak it. What could he be holding back?

My white count had gone crazy and there was a very suspicious node on my neck. The date for my surgery was set and my lump was not the size of a grapefruit as everyone’s seemed to be. Mine was far more along the lines of a Tootsie Pop but, nonetheless, a troublesome thought.

My mind wondered why I had bothered to learn Christmas carols in Latin, why had I stood before God, family and Cartier to make me feel even more stupid in my idiotic hope if it would all end like this. What new and ugly surprise did he have in store for me?

Before my doctor finally spoke, he reached across to me. I wondered if he was going to hold my face to cushion more outrageous news. Instead, he mussed up my hearty mop of hair and uttered: “Look at that.” Then addressing his thinning mane, which had been the furtherest thing from my tortured mind, he growled: “And I’m only 46 years old.”

He didn’t seem to care about the Tootsie Pop business; he was more concerned about my blessed head of hair. Was I supposed to apologize for having such a fine crop of hair when he had been otherwise blessed?

Shortly thereafter, the mass was excised from my neck and my doctor was off attending to other patients, whom I could only hope were not so distracting to his tonsorial sensitivities. I had been shamed for my total lack of baldness, when I foolishly worried that we had been pondering a totally non-heroic demise.

Then and there, I decided to rejoice in my ample, if not still auburn, locks. And every time thereafter, when I would look down following a haircut at my brilliant blessing, I would be humbled by the waste of it.

Fast forward to 2020. Having once heard that one in 10,000 babies are born with red hair, I decided it was time to use my super power for good. At the dawn of 2020, I needed a haircut but as the rules of the virus gained momentum, I decided to let my mane flow freely and perhaps fulfill a goal rather than stare at my splendid hair shorn and left dejected on the floor.

No, this time, I was going for the gold.

As of now, my locks have passed the mandatory 10-inch length to help a kid with cancer, to nobly use my passive-aggressive powers for a child who already has too much on his or her little mind than to worry about baldness. So, when the invisible pandemic walls come down, I shall proudly stride into Circuit Style, have Seniel crop me, and then keep an eye out for a child, a version of one in 10,000, like me.

Jib Ellis is the author of Bandstand, The Search for Oak Island Gold and Jib’s Hat. He lives in Vineyard Haven