Samuel Reuben looked like a father, not like someone you would have an Oedipus complex about. He never seemed to have had a full head of hair, but early photographs indicate that for one brief, shining moment, something light brown had once flourished there. To have called him “bald,” however, would have been cruelly inaccurate. That bare, often sunburned space surrounded by fringe was just there.
Old men got bald.
Fussbudgets got bald.
Elmer Fudd got bald.
My father just didn’t have a whole lot of hair.
What there was of it, though, he cared about. A lot. When he went down to the Glencoe Beach, he put a shower cap on his head before he would plunge into the waves. A puffy, bouffant thing, the purpose of which was to keep what remained on his head from being aggravated into further recession by the thermal inadequacies of Lake Michigan, i.e., he thought cold water makes your hair fall out.
Other than this and the additional precautions of massaging his skull with a plastic nubby thing, he did little to refurbish what was left. As children, we never quite took the plight of his hairline seriously. One Chanukah we bought him a huge comb, which he did not find amusing but about which I laughed for days.