Uncle Fester Rides A Rollercoaster

Uncle Fester Rides A Rollercoaster

Here I am, a week shy of my 38th birthday, and my current celebrity doppelgänger is Fester Addams.

fester addams

Go on, laugh! I do all the time.

And then secretly I cry.

I try and try to put on my brave, but sometimes I crumble.

Some days I can look beyond the bald, beyond my brow and lash-less reflection and feel more fab than Fester, but other days are just plain hard. No matter where I go, or what I do, or how many people tell me I look beautiful, I feel people’s eyes boring into me. I feel the burden of a society whose spectrum of normal I no longer fit. I feel ugly, unsightly, unfeminine.

“No hats, ma’am,” the young ride attendant calls.

I know she is talking to me, but I glance over my shoulder and pretend not to hear. “Excited, Rooey? This is going to be fu-un,” I coo. Maybe if I keep my back turned, she’ll give up and start the ride anyway. I haven’t prepared myself to unveil my baldness in front of a crowd of onlookers and the sudden threat of it is sharp. I wince.

The attendant is now hovering right next to my car, pointing to a sign above us that states ‘No Loose Items’ in bold lettering. I had already read it as we waited in line, but had been hoping it was more of a recommendation, than a rule.

“Excuse me, lady. Your hat – it needs to come off, please.”

I glance up at her and grimace. “Please – can you let me keep it on?”

“Sorry. Ride rule. No hats allowed.”

“But…I have no hair,” I squeak, imploring her to let me go.

She baulks, clearly embarrassed, then bends a little closer and lowers her voice. “I’m so sorry. You’re going to have to take it off. Really sorry, but it’s ride rules.”

I bite my lip and nod softly. To our right, the waiting queue snakes back and forth, four rows deep. Arms drape languidly over railings, faces gaze intently. Here I am in full view of a crowd of onlookers, having to unceremoniously expose myself.

I coil as far down into my seat as I can, and slide off my hat.

Instantly, I hear quiet murmurs break out as the front rows catch a glimpse of the bald woman about to ride the roller coaster; the one-woman freak show.

Tears prick. My face flushes crimson. I can’t look up.

Fortunately, before I am forced to endure any more embarrassment, the ride takes off with a sudden jerk, and whisks me away. We sail up towards the sky and then suddenly barrel down the bright, curved rail. Air streams past my face and my stomach lurches to my chin as we drop into the next turn. We twist and jerk around corners, down dips, pressed sideways in our seats as we screech and gleam around the looping course.

rollercoaster

A minute later we sail to a smooth stop, back at the platform where it all began. I close my eyes, breathe in deeply and smother a laugh. All my previous humiliation has dissolved and my body is now zinging with frenzied relief.

I feel like reality has just collided with the metaphor of my life.

From the carriage in front, both of my boys whoop with glee. I turn around, watching my daughter babble happily, tucked into the safe crook of her Daddy’s arm.

Her eyes, shining with wonderment, catch mine. “That was so fun, Mum. Can we go again?”

We clamber off together, linking arms and smiling broadly. My kids chatter non-stop about how ‘epic’ the rollercoaster was. They don’t notice my missing hat at all.

I wish I was brave enough to leave it off.

10 thoughts on “Uncle Fester Rides A Rollercoaster

  1. You must have been so beautiful in that moment, and I mean that physically and emotionally. That must have been a very difficult moment for you. I’m sorry you had to make a choice like that. But good for you for taking that darn hat off! It won’t be long now before you can do that on a regular basis.
    I’ve always wondered what I’d do if I was bald in the summer. I keep telling people I’d rock the bald look but, in reality, I’m not sure what I’d do.
    Great post! I can’t wait to read more.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh Kate, squeezy hugs to you. The stares aren’t pleasant but every now and then I got lovely smiles instead of stares. This probably isn’t you but my advice – Give them a huge grin it will unsettle them a little! Please please try to be brave, your lovely hair will grow back soon, as will your lashes, mine are crazy gorgeous again and have been for weeks now. Continue enjoying your family holiday and the warmth of the North. I still owe you coffee and cake! Love Sus x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post touched me — I can relate. I never exposed my bald head to the world and part of that was because I wanted to continue lying to myself in some way. I wanted to appear normal because I was hungry to feel normal. But no matter how much I tried, inside I wasn’t. I was never prepared to deal with people’s reactions about my cancer until my hair started to grow back.

    You are a wonderful mom.

    When you are ready to let go, you will. Allow yourself the time you need. It will happen. XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so brave. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Before my hair fell out I remember seeing a woman walking around Northland with her bald head. I was so impressed at her confidence and wondered if I would ever get to that level of comfort with my hair (or lack of it) – I didn’t. Even today I avoid looking in the mirror because I hate how short my hair is and I feel like cancer face is staring back at me. No matter how many people tell me it suits me short, I feel old and not like me. Remember those people are just staring because they are mortified that someone your age is going through this. I found the stares were heightened when I had my children with me. Even in radiation (a place of much baldness!) I got so many stares when I had the kids with me because people realise how young you are. Soon enough you will be blending back into the crowd. Enjoy your holiday – you deserve it.

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  5. I got teary eyed from this one (seriously how many times have I said that with your writing now?) I had a friend for the umpteenth time tell me last night how great my short hair looks and how I should leave it like this and I told her yet again “maybe when it can be a choice I’ll cut it”. I never had any real nightmares during treatment, but I had dreams where my hair would grow back and then I’d wake and it wouldn’t be there, or I’d forget it was gone and then see myself in a mirror or touch my head without thinking. It’s really hard. It’s better now, but it’s still hard that I can’t braid it and long hair is in style again and that I have to navigate how to deal with really short hair that I didn’t choose. Some days we rock the baldness and feel like we can conquer the world, but most days we try and just get through it, and some days it’s really hard. I’m so glad that that your tough moment was followed by a roller coaster though, that’s as good as it gets 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I looked in my mirror during chemo, I saw my grandfather who I never knew to have hair. My husband, who is also bald, and I looked like we were brother and sister. And when my hair finally came back, it was insanely(!) curly. No kidding. I looked like a dandelion. It was then I developed my mantra that has since kept life in perspective: “Happy to be here. Happy to have hair. And the second part is optional.”

    Having said that, the one big thing I know about cancer is everyone’s experience is different. If wearing hats makes it easier for you, you should go for it! Judging by your picture at the top of this blog, you look very cute in them.

    Still, I’m glad you enjoyed the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Beth. It was a bit traumatic at the time. I feel like I desperately WANT to embrace the bald me, for all that it represents about strength, but it’s too hard sometimes.

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