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Down the Hatchet

Ripe for the Plucking

By Akshay Patil
COLUMNIST

I’m starting to go gray, and it’s pissing me off. I came to MIT as a young whippersnapper of a boy, and now look at me... I’m old and graying. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s my shampoo, but I think the most likely culprit is the Institvte.

Things were looking good for my scalp when I was born. I mean, both my grandfathers have reasonable heads of hair and my dad’s moptop is going strong.

The genetics were on my side, so I thought I could reasonably look forward to a potentially hairful future.

Course, that’s nice and all, but I was also looking forward to looking relatively young for a while. I mean, I’m freaking 21 years old here... you’re not supposed to have white hairs until you’re... you know, older. I refuse to age! I drink from the fountain of youth! You hear that Old Man Time?! I am Peter Pan! So you can just take your white hairs and shove it up your...

Maybe I should just shave my head, you know, a la Michael Jordan. Then I could sign a deal with Nike for a bijillion dollars and drop out of MIT. Yeah, that could work. Bring it on, Yao Ming.

I wonder if Yao Ming has any gray hairs... can anyone see the top of his head anyways? Probably not -- the bastard.

The problem is, Yao Ming doesn’t have tests and problem sets. I swear I gained 4 white hairs from doing a design project a few weeks ago (stupid Computer System Engineering). I bet if I had to guard Shaq instead of writing nine pages on Memory Management Unit design, I’d have jet-black hair. Okay, so maybe not, but I’m sure Yao isn’t keen on MMUs either. If I were guarding Shaq, I’d probably be black and blue, with a little too much red.

Speaking of which, I used to dye my hair fun colors like red and blue... but those days are over. I actually stopped doing the hair dye, because I got worried I might be stacking the cards against my wonderful genetic disposition towards having hair in general. Now “hair dye” means “just for men” so I can get rid of those gray hairs in “just five minutes.” I’m thinking of growing a beard so I might color my beard to restore it to its “natural color.” Course, I’d have to be able to grow a beard in the first place... which I can’t... hmm, that could be a problem.

To be honest, the worst thing about having gray hairs isn’t the way I look, but it’s the way everyone wants to pull them out. Alright, I know I have a few white hairs, but it’s not like I’m wearing a sign that says “please, yank my scalp, I like it.” I freak out when people give my head a weird look and say “hey, you have a few gray hairs” as they lift their hand up towards my “do.” That’s when I run to escape their follicular grasp. That’s right -- follicular grasp... but that’s a whole other column, now isn’t it?

But why do people have this urge to pull out white hairs? Does it really help? Is it worth it? I mean, if you have enough white hairs that it’s really noticeable, wouldn’t pulling out the white hairs just put you half way on the road to baldness? And if not, is it really worth the pain? I mean, it obviously doesn’t hurt the person doing the pulling, so are they acting in my interest or merely satisfying their own sadistic desires?

Yeah, the ’tvte is doing to me in four years what the presidency did to Bill Clinton... minus the women. As I spend more time here, I see my youthful demeanor slowly slip away and a weathered visage taking its place. Oh well, better than being bald, I guess.