I recently returned to the office for one day last week, exactly a year and a day since I had last sat in the chair at my desk. My goal was to try to make peace with the idea of an inevitable return to that environment at some point. I hadn’t realized that so many of my friends and colleagues had already returned to working in an office in some capacity, even if readers here at Curbside have mentioned that this was the case for them. After my initial, hard resistance to working from home, which was made necessary a year ago by the current pandemic, I have come to love so many things about it, not the least of which is maximization of my time during the day that might otherwise be spent commuting. It has been bliss for my inner introvert, though I am thrilled that vaccines are rolling out, even if it means the end to living a full life entirely within a half-mile radius of my home.
What will also be coming to an end with an eventual, mandatory return to the office is my ability to not to have to look my best for other people. To be clear, I am no slob. I have made clothing purchases online over the past twelve months knowing full well that the guy in the mirror looking back at me would be the only person who would appreciate my so cool new t-shirt or pair of jeans. Some people have joked about things like taking care of basic tasks (like getting dressed in actual clothes, doing laundry, etc.) requiring effort, but I have managed to even shave every day as well as prepare meals for the week. I say all of this not as a so-called “humble brag”, but as merely a statement of fact.
Speaking of shaving, I have shaved my head consistently for over twenty years now. The first time I did so, I was a teenager and was looking to change my image following a relocation to another state. This was before regular access to the internet, so I had no idea that shaving the back of my head with a razor against the grain for the closest possible cut was going to lead to a rear scalp full of painful ingrown hairs and red bumps. It looked like a rooster’s comb back there for a while. I learned that lesson the hard way, but thankfully, everything was healed by the time school started up that fall. The intended takeaway from all this was that shaving my head at that point in my young adulthood was completely voluntary, as all of my hair follicles seemed healthy and happy.
At some point in the early Aughts, I had been shaving my head again for a little while and decided I wanted to try to grow all my hair back. Things were hunky dory… for the first few days. As I approached a week’s worth of growth, I started to panic. “Wait…“, I said to myself. “Why can I see so much of my scalp up here between the hairs? This shouldn’t be! How does this compare with what it looks like on the side?” So, as I sat at rest at stoplights in the driver’s seat of my ’94 Ford Probe, I’d pick at my hair, turning from side to side, peering into my windshield-mounted rear view mirror.
The writing was on the wall. While neither my dad nor the men on my mom’s side of the family were completely bald up top and in the front, there was prevalent thinness. At some point shortly thereafter, I decided to call it a day and make a bald-shaven head my signature look, which I have maintained ever since. Getting back to pandemic-related quarantine, it has occurred to me that I may have squandered my only easy opportunity to see what my hairline situation is in present day before a regular return to office days and having to be seen more in public. It’s true that I could start the growth process now, but there is a part of me that is actually pretty terrified to obtain the confirmation I would most certainly receive that my hairline would now resemble that of a cross between George Jefferson and Mr. Spacely from The Jetsons.
What does it really look like up there? This same question has often been asked about vintage cars that sport various roof treatments like landau vinyl, carriage roofs, and the like. There have been more than a few instances of features at Curbside’s “Junkyard Classics” or “Curbside Recycling” where otherwise salvageable looking cars were likely scrapped following a pre-restoration discovery of widespread and serious rust on the metal roof beneath a fancy chapeau. This ’85 Eldorado, from this generation of GM E-Body’s final year of production, features the full Cabriolet Roof option from the factory. (There was also an available padded vinyl “Cabriolet” roof that capped the rear portion of the roofline.)
Very nice aftermarket wire wheels and whitewall tires would indicate that this was a pampered and prized vehicle at some point. It seems entirely possible that the first owner of this ’85 was one of over 74,000 buyers who wanted a new Eldorado before the smaller ’86 models arrived. Looking at this car’s condition as of five years ago when these pictures were taken, I’d say that all bets are off in terms of what the bare metal under that tan top looks like today, kind of like the struggling, little seedlings atop my scalp after twenty-four hours of inattention.
The problematic and infamous Cadillac HT 4100 fuel-injected engine with 135 horsepower came standard, with the 105-hp Oldsmobile 350 diesel as an option. I don’t hate the downsized ’86 Eldorados that followed, which sold but a third of what had moved off the lots in ’85, but my thought is that if this particular Eldorado had been one year newer, it probably wouldn’t have been there parked on the curb for me to photograph and would have been scrapped years, and perhaps decades, before.
Even if there was some rust apparent on the exterior, there wasn’t an abundance of it, so it’s possible that the metal roof of this car was fine. It is also in the little details on this Eldorado, like the “Cadillac” inscription on the sideview mirror, that reinforce my feeling that these cars made their owners feel special, even by the seventh model year of this generation’s run. Absent a miracle, neither this car nor my full head of hair is going to be brought back to its full glory, judging by the circumstances in each case. I consider it fortunate that I like the way I look with a shaved head. I would like to think our featured car is still cruising around Chicago with its interior headliner intact and showing off its fancy, tan fedora, completely unconcerned about what may be lurking underneath.
Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois.
Late February & early March, 2016.