By Ken Hegan for The National Post
Welcome to my self-help column. Each month I devote myself to following a new guru. I won’t stop until I’m perfect.
So far I’ve shed my beer belly by devouring ‘The Action Sandwich’ an inspirational self-help book from the singer of Glass Tiger. And when the recession killed my day job, I consulted the letter-writing gurus at WriteExpress.com, a website that sells pre-written letters for all occasions. They taught me to send a positive goodbye email to my co-workers instead of burying landmines in the staff kitchen.
Now I dearly want to fix my most personal problem yet:
Conquering my shame of being bald.
When I was a boy, I had a lush pelt of bright red hair. My hair was shiny and silky, and attracted small birds and an assortment of woodland creatures. But by Grade 12, my scarlet locks began to fall. By university, I was bald except for a fringe of ginger and three tenacious ear whiskers. You can imagine how good it felt when I asked girls out and they giggled at me like I was Krusty the Clown.
My confidence suffered for years. Worse, I let my naked pate prevent me from achieving my dream career. I’ve worked in television for years as a writer, director, and producer. But all my life, what I’ve really wanted is to host my own TV show. I’d especially love to be the front man for some exotic, exciting, and somewhat-manly lifestyle TV series.
Yet I was too fearful to pursue my dream. I grew up in the hairy ’80s when bald men had no place on television. Magnum P.I. wasn’t bald — neither were David Hasselhoff, Nick Slaughter, or the kids from Scooby Doo. The only bald guys on TV were losers, old, evil, or Kojak. I’ve worn hats ever since.
Then something amazing happened. I stumbled across the website for a guru who says he’s “devoted to reaching out and helping people to the best of his self-proclaimed average abilities.”
His name is The Ordinary Guy, and he’s an anonymous adult male who gives advice, friendship, and comfort over the phone. His website offers his exclusive services as your “Best Friend. Confidant. Scapegoat. Guru. Messenger.”
Need someone to chat with? The Ordinary Guy is just a phone call away. His services include phoning you on your Birthday or Anniversary ($19.99 USD), Your Dirty Work/Breakup Call ($19.99 USD), not to mention his Friend for Life Investment at just $10,000 USD. It’s kinda genius.
I have no idea where The Ordinary Guy lives or what he looks like. He might be sitting cross-legged on a Tibetan mountaintop. Or he might be doing hard time in a Kentucky jail. His website doesn’t say.
I need a quick confidence pickup so I use PayPal to book The Reassurance Call (two minutes for $4.99 USD). My phone rings the next morning.
“Hi Ken,” says The Ordinary Guy, “I’m down on the dock working on the bilge pump on my brother’s boat. How are you?”
The Ordinary Guy’s voice is soothing, curious, likeable, and, yes, ordinary. I tell him in detail about my idea for a smart and exotic TV series co-starring my photographer buddy and me. I tell him about my fear that bald guys can never be TV heroes. I tell him how I’ll be walking along, feeling tickety-boo…then I spot my reflection in a store window and suddenly feel like a useless chump. Would a TV audience accept my shiny head? Or would they reject me and bury me in hate mail?
My eyes glisten. I realize I want to tell The Ordinary Guy everything.
The Ordinary Guy speaks. “Our time is tight today, Ken. So let’s start there. I myself have a bit of a receding hairline. My ex-girlfriend practiced Chinese medicine. She said rubbing ginger root on my scalp would help. I tried it but it didn’t really work. For a while I convinced myself it did. I had to let go. That aside, I don’t know what to say about your situation…except I BELIEVE IN YOU, KEN. Your TV series sounds amazing. It sounds great. I’d watch it. And you’re passionate about it, which is everything.”
He pauses for this to sink in. I imagine we’re sitting on his dock, drinking beers and talking things through.
“As for your head…I’ll leave you with something that pops into my head. My mom was a hippie. And she liked listening to a Canadian named Leonard Cohen. In one song he said something that’s always stuck with me: ‘Everything has a crack in it and that’s how the light comes in.’ I think this is something to ponder, Ken. I think you have a great idea and remember…there’s always a way.”
Wow. ‘Everything has a crack in it…’ If I hear The Ordinary Guy correctly, my perceived flaw could be my true source of wisdom and beauty. Maybe my denuded scalp will make me stand out from the pack of hairy talking heads. Maybe my freckled dome could be my meal ticket! Maybe I’m not even ‘bald’…I simply have more face to touch.
My heart leaps. Ordinary Guy? Ha! More like ‘Extraordinary Guy’. I thank him and he’s gone.
That night I meet with my photographer friend. I roll up my sleeves and we get to work on our TV series proposal. I’ve avoided chasing my dream for too long. But thanks to The Ordinary Guy, it’s time to let the light shine through my crack.
— Ken Hegan