I looked at this Taurus in my neighborhood on the day of this writing and thought immediately of myself from about twenty years ago. Right off the bat, I’d like to level-set by pointing out that while I think this roof treatment is hideous and probably was from day one, the current owner of the car wasn’t responsible for it. By this stage of this Taurus’s ownership, it serves simply as a device to get from point A to point B. The presence of a faux convertible top on this car should in no way be considered a reflection on its owner.
A transportation car is just that, and while I never had to own one myself, there was a point in time when I was between jobs when I was seriously considering the purchase of one of several unglamorous conveyances to get me to and from a few job prospects in the Chicago suburbs. I’m thankful for the job I ultimately accepted over a decade ago, and also for my continued ability to rely on public transit.
Rewinding to the late ’90s, when my insurance career was in its infancy, I had started to lose my hair. I have written about this in an essay that originally ran in March of 2021, and I’m sure at least a few other times. This is why I’m not going to go too deep with this today, but the metaphor bears repeating, as it’s an increasingly rare occurrence to come across a “Taurus Landau” in any setting that’s not a junkyard.
When I had started to notice that my hair wasn’t quite as thick up top as it was on the sides, I had chalked this up to temporary results of all of the ways I had tortured my hair while “expressing myself” (in ’90s parlance) in my more colorful nightclubbing days of my early adulthood. I had once been a pro at bleaching my hair and either leaving my closely cropped Caesar cut and sideburns an unnatural shade of brassy blond, or using Manic Panic temporary hair dye and coloring it Pillarbox Red using a toothbrush. (I still love and listen to many forms of techno, by the way.)
There were experiments conducted with Duke’s hair pomade and attempts to get some waves going. Combing it forward, backward, parted on the side… I did it everything to my thickly-textured hair but straighten it. I was barely in my mid-20s when I started to notice a lot more hair caught in my brush following my updated, toned-down, corporate-world hair grooming routine. I looked at pictures of both my dad and my maternal grandfather to see what their respective hairline situations were. My dad’s hair, while thinner up top than in his youth, was mostly accounted for, but my grandpa was rocking a straight-up Homer Simpson, and I didn’t need to look at his picture to realize this. D’oh! And my friends, not helping, would point out that male pattern baldness comes from one’s mother’s side of the family (which I still think is up for debate).
Anyway, I soon learned to get very creative with (wait for it…) eyeliner, which I then used to draw lines on my scalp to try to preserve the illusion of the darkness up top that normally comes with a full head of hair. I recently came across a photo of myself from this era, which I have not included in this essay despite having shared much more personal information with CC readers. I could look at that picture for only so many seconds before moving on with my day and needing a visual palate cleanser. I began shaving my head consistently right around the turn of the millennium, and it’s a look that has worked well for me ever since.
Looking again at the roof treatment of this Taurus, with the faint traces of the words “Special Edition”, or something like it, in gold letters where the little rear quarter windows are still undoubtedly hiding beneath the fabric, it struck me just how inorganic this cloth top looked in conjunction with the basic lines of this car. Was any casual onlooker with zero interest in cars inclined to believe this was a Taurus convertible? (Was anybody fooled by the thick, squiggly lines of Maybelline that were hastily drawn on my greasy scalp?) I suppose that it could be worse, and that instead of a 2004 Taurus, the cloth top could have been applied to the oval-themed 1996 – ’99 model. I’m probably in the minority that doesn’t think the ’96 Taurus was a complete stylistic disaster. A cloth toupee like on our featured car simply looks less bad on the more anodyne 2000 – ’07 styling refresh.
I realize that shaving one’s head isn’t an option for everybody, and I know I’ve used this exact line before in a different essay, though I can’t recall which one. I’ve been shaving my own head for decades now. I’ll wrap with the following based on my own experience: to other guys who might be considering increasingly elaborate means of preserving the illusion of a full head of hair, whether that’s shaking an entire canister of Toppik hair fibers on your head in the morning (true story: I’ve seen an example of what looked like this on my morning Red Line train), a comb-over, or anything else short of legitimate hair transplants, I implore you to think of this Taurus and go back to the drawing board as needed.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, November 21, 2022.