I have a secret. It isn’t always obvious when you see me. And I may or may not reveal it depending on how courageous and secure I feel at the time. Am I talking in riddles? Maybe.

It all began thirty plus years ago when I was getting my usual haircut at the beauty shop in the small town where I grew up. The beautician was cutting the back of my hair when she stopped and dropped a phrase that sounded like Klingon or some other strange alien language. “You have a small bald spot on the back of your head about the size of a quarter. And I know all about that. It’s Alopecia Areata.”  And she proceeded to tell me everything she knew. Was I impressed? Hardly, I mean this lady didn’t even have a high school diploma how could she possibly be knowledgeable about Alopecia Are…whatta?

But only a few years later a dermatologist confirmed the diagnosis. “You have the most classic example of Alopecia Areata I have ever seen.” I still wasn’t impressed and I liked the diagnosis even less. And what was even more bleek was the prognosis. There is no known cause or cure.

Just to give you a brief description of this colorful occurrence. Alopecia is an autoimmune disease. Your white blood cells attack the growing hair follicles and causes them to go dormant causing the hair to fall out. It starts as individual bald patches that soon connect to make an even bigger bald spot on the scalp. One area will totally go bald, then grow back in again while another area will thin and fall out. One interesting note about the disorder, it does not discriminate. It can develop at any age from infant to old age and it occurs in both men and women. Bruce Willis, for example, suffers from Alopecia. Bald can be sexy and beautiful in men; not so in women where a woman’s locks is a status symbol.

My hair cycling continued until the age of 50 when it all fell out and never grew back. There, now you know my secret. I am a bald as a new born or a cue ball. Take your pick.

I was hoping my mother would be supportive of this radical change of appearance because I was having a difficult time accepting a balding me. But, alas, that was not the case. She regarded me as an oddity and embarrassment. I must have been forty or fifty percent bald when she looked at me with a certain finality and exclaimed, “Oh, for God’s sake, Catherine, get a wig.” I’m sure she meant well but it shot my already low self- esteem into a million fragments.

I wasn’t sure my soon-to-be husband could handle a bald wife either. Even though he had some reservations, he was able to accept me Alopecia and all. I was 60% bald and wearing a wig out our wedding.