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Tell All: Strands of shame
What to tell a friend with a comb-over

Dear Tell All: Your spray-on hair column was a hoot (5/1/09)! I need your advice on a similar topic: My best friend has a comb-over, and it looks ridiculous. He looks like such a nerd that I'm embarrassed to hang out with him. How do I let him know his hair looks awful without coming off like a jerk?


Dear Buzz: Keep in mind that comb-overs don't happen overnight. No one wakes up and thinks, "I feel a little frisky today. Maybe I'll try something new...something all the kids are doing, like a comb-over."

Instead, comb-overs sneak up on you. One day you look in the mirror, notice a thin spot with some pink flesh peeking through, nudge a few neighboring strands over to cover it up and shazam! A comb-over is born. Once the seed is planted, the comb-over grows like a weed. As other hairs fall out one by one and the surrounding landscape becomes more desolate, the comb-over stands out like a giant neon sign flashing, "Dork! Dork! Dork!"

So go easy on your friend. He didn't necessarily choose to have a comb-over; he just ended up with one. And now he's too afraid to let go of it. In a way, it's all he has left.

I think the best strategy in situations like this is honesty. Although it's sometimes hard to hear, people really do appreciate the truth. No one wants to find out 20 years too late that his trademark mullet was never sexy, or that his garage-sale swimsuit did indeed make him look fat.

You should remind your friend that there are alternatives. For example, it's become very acceptable, even cool, for men to completely shave their heads. Hair restoration and transplant procedures have improved significantly. And, of course, there's always spray-on hair.

Now the traditional comb-over is useless to curly-haired people like me. The curl is too unpredictable, and the hair goes every which way. So the normal progression for curlies is luxurious curls...thinning curls...Bozo the Clown. You can pretend you look like someone more respectable, like Ben Franklin. But in the end, it's the same hairstyle minus the silly nose.

So I dread the day that I start losing my hair. But I'm working on a secret weapon: the Curl-over. It's's's radical. Best of all, no one will suspect it. You see, the fatal flaw with the standard comb-over is that the hairs only make one pass over the void. And if there are only six healthy ones, it's like trying to cover up Kirstie Alley with a string bikini. But with the Curl-over, I could keep winding the hairs round and round until I end up with a solid 'fro. If I grew them long enough, I could build a towering Marge Simpson.

The only problem is the wind. If I got caught in a stiff blast, my six hairs would unwind with a whir and spin 'round my head like a giant weed whipper. It could get ugly.

Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI, 53703. Or email

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