As it turns out, it takes over two years for me to grow a really good head of hair.
For my long-time readers (all 3 of them), you're already aware that about 30 months ago or so, I shaved my head to raise money for a local women's shelter called Barrett House. More money than I'd planned, really - with a target of $100, I managed to raise a little over $1300. And a good time was had by all.
Our CEO was reasonably happy with the minor press we got, and she flippantly asked if I was going to do it again the next year.
Well, I decided to raise the stakes, because, to be honest, I'm easily bored. I suffer from an advanced case of ADOST (Attention Deficit... ooh Shiny Thing! ), and I figured that, to raise said stakes, I'd need to donate the hair to Locks of Love instead of wasting it. A microscopic amount of research later, I learned that it needed to be ten inches long for them to make a wig. So I set that as my goal. Now, around two and a half years later, it's between 10 and 12 inches long, so I figure I could be bald again for charity.
Now, in the intervening two-plus years, I had less time to devote to raising money, so I was hoping that allying with the United Way folks might help. (Sadly, it didn't - we didn't earn nearly what we did two-plus years ago. But that's OK - I wasn't the only cause in their bucket, and every couple of hundred helps.)
But that led us to the Embaldening. People had paid a buck for a chance to play barber, and we had all their tickets.
While they pulled out the box and set up the clippers, the Trophy Wife (always supportive, even if she prefers my hair longer) brushed this god-awful mess into multiple pony-tails, in order to get maximum usable hair.
Meanwhile, a little more research had told me that there was no easy solution to this "hair issue." To begin with, there are some serious questions regarding Locks of Love.
Wait a minute! Didn't Oprah endorse them?
Yeah, she did. But some people still have questions. Some big questions, which Oprah didn't bother to ask. Sadly, I did.
Here on the home front, they started drawing names to see who would be shaving off my flowing locks. The first turned out to be a doctor on call, and he couldn't make it. The next, a nurse manager, didn't want to do it (apparently, I hadn't pissed her off enough). Finally, we got Barbara Hoidahl, who, it turns out, was the prettiest of the three choices thus far, so, you know, that was a bonus for me.
Now, normally, having an attractive woman running her fingers through your hair is a good thing. Other times, perhaps less so. Sometimes, it's a challenge just to keep them on task. She kept herself entertained for quite a while, which I suppose counted for something.
So, what did we know about Locks of Love?
Well, for one thing, the Better Business Bureau hasn't been able to endorse them until this year, because until now, they refused to provide complete information on their finances. (I kind of have a problem with that...) And their administrative expenses are a pretty big chunk of their cash outflow. (Is "outflow" a word? Well, it is now...)
And Locks of Love has never explained any of their earlier discrepancies. They just meet standards now - what went before apparently doesn't matter.
What's been happening (and appears to still be happening) is that if the hair doesn't meet some fairly strict standards, it gets sold to pay expenses. Now, here's my thing. If the hair is being sold, what is it being used for? Mattress stuffing? I mean, think about it for a second - there's really only one use for hair that can't be filled by another substance, and for less money.
I mean, maybe I'm looking at this problem wrong, but, if somebody can make a wig from the hair in question, then why the hell can't Locks of Love make the same wig, and plant it on some kid's head?
In the meantime, having people wandering around shoving cameras in your face can just get annoying.
* sigh * It's the price you pay, I suppose.
There was some question for a while regarding what conditions would qualify a kid for a Locks of Love wig. Apparently, they were originally interested primarily in alopecia, and not too concerned about children undergoing chemotherapy. They seem to have corrected this little discrepancy since then. But they still seem to sell off more hair than they use. This really bothers me a lot.
So I'm going to keep my eye on Locks of Love, but at this point, I'm not comfortable donating to them. However, with just a little research, I found several other charities doing pretty much the same thing.
There's Wigs for Kids, which was started by a hairdresser named Jeffrey Paul
For our British friends, there's the Little Princess Trust, which is based in the United Kingdom (Hereford, in England - near the border of Wales, to be precise). But that was a little out of the way for me. (In the same way, there's Zichron Menachem in Israel - in case you don't read Hebrew, here's the Wikipedia entry. Again, not exactly local.)
And there's Pantene Beautiful Lengths, run, in a fascinating bit of synergy, by the shampoo company of the same name. They provide free wigs to cancer survivors; the average price of a well made human hair wig is about $1,200 and most insurance companies cover only a tiny amount of that, if anything. Because insurance companies suck.
And here's the thing: I haven't found out anything negative about the Pantene charity. (If anybody knows anything, please tell me. And give me some links - back up your accusations, please.) They give the wigs for free, where Locks of Love charges a sliding scale. They work in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Hair U Wear (a leading maker of hair extensions and additions), so their operations are scrutinized pretty well.
So I felt pretty good about my choice of charities. Plus, they gave me a new hat. So, bonus!