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Hair, There, and Everywhere

One of Five

One of Five

Fifty to sixty percent of men over the age of sixty are bald; by age seventy only one in five have a full head of hair. These statistics mean that a veritable army of men worldwide closely resembles my ex-husband.

Early in our courtship, and ensuing marriage I was able to pick him out in a crowd. His casual style of dressing didn’t differentiate him from other guys his age, and it wasn’t his timeless business attire that distinguished him from other executives. I was able to spot my partner anywhere because of the shape and texture of his particular bald spot.



He might have been waiting for me in the lobby of a crowded theater during intermission, or he might have been standing at the bar of a popular restaurant, waiting for me to arrive. But regardless of the location, or the distance between us, I was always able to identify my husband in a crowd.

Some men struggle with hair loss in their teens. My ex-husband was among them; twenty percent lose their hair before high school graduation. Research indicates that the earlier the loss begins the more drastic, and acute it will be.



Dr. Ivan Cohen, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine states  “What happens in male pattern hair loss is that the growing cycle becomes shorter so the hair does not grow as long as it once did. It becomes finer, and eventually the growth cycle is eliminated.”

Grown Apart

Grown Apart

Early in our marriage the interaction between us began to echo male pattern hair loss. The tender connection that bound us together was weakening. We were losing the grip on our relationship, as surely as the hairs that we found on his pillowcase almost every morning, or the ones we collected from the shower drain on a daily basis.

All Gone

All Gone

We were able to brush off the pillowcase, or change the linens, and clean the drain to make it seem as if nothing had been lost. In keeping with the pretense, we continued to disguise the fact that our marriage was losing ground, much the same as a man might begin to wear a “comb-over” to hide the obvious, but the obvious can’t be disguised. However, our marriage lasted for six more years.



I saw him in court, or at school functions, and other sundry locations where our children would be. Our difficult divorce resulted in a less than casual friendly relationship. I needed to ramp up my indifference toward seeing him each time I knew that we’d be in the same place at the same time.

Ready Now

Ready Now

Looking much the same as he did when we were married, it was easy to recognize him at a distance, so that I could steel myself for our encounters. Sometime after me, but before wife number two he shaved his head, along with countless other middle-aged men. The characteristics of baldness which once made it easy to tell one man from the other have been all but obliterated. Now everyone has a glistening clean-shaven head. God help me, now “he’s” everywhere.

 Thought You Were Someone Else

Thought You Were Someone Else

No longer can a wife or girlfriend find her bald mate distinguished by his hairstyle. Whether a man was once identified by his comb-over, thinning crown, a dangling stringy ponytail, or the sparse clumps of hair that form an identifiable pattern on his head, women used to be able to say “there he is, I’d know him anywhere.” Gone are the days when a significant other can identify her partner at fifty paces.



Nowadays I see my ex-husband everywhere. I see him at least three times a day, middle-aged bald guys are everywhere, and they all wear the same thing. Sporting fashion neutral clothing, accessorized by either wire rimmed, or rimless glasses, it’s almost impossible to tell one from the other.

One Out of Five

One Out of Five

Maybe I’ll eventually date one of the five guys that have a full head of hair. But now, his third wife will have to use some kind of identification system other than the one I once used.


Paintings of bald men, blonde woman, and the clown – Jill Slaughter

Paintings by  Dusty Boynton: Scream & Whirl

I Thought You Were Someone Else – Barbara Kruger







Summer Love

Kids from the New York tri-state area crammed into back seats of family cars for the annual summer pilgrimage to Catskill Mountain bungalow colonies. The mostly family owned “resorts” swelled with middle class Jewish families seeking relief from brutal summer city temperatures. Siblings interlocked like hand-crafted puzzle pieces to make room for supermarket cardboard boxes packed with sheets, and pots.  Dented cartons were the containers used to transport  household necessities  to recreate the comforts of home in tiny rented summer cottages.

Catskill Mountain bungalow colony

Arriving safely, without being  harnessed by seatbelts, the soundtrack for the hours long drive was “Are we there yet?” At least one of my three siblings always fell asleep, at least one of us got car sick, and all of us annoyed my parents with our incessant chatter. Notwithstanding, the journey, my family rejoiced in spending summers in the country.

“Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells was number one on the charts in the summer of 1967 when I learned to dance. I was eleven. My mother, two sisters, baby brother and I left for the months of July and August, leaving my dad home alone to fend for himself with two towels, a box of cereal, a container of milk, and all the quiet of an empty house. In our own way, each of us experienced an uncomplicated carefree vacation.

Dad’s Chair

Our childhoods unfolded in the ten years my family spent summers upstate. My sisters and I learned to swim, shoot archery, and play volleyball there, things we would have never learned in Brooklyn. In between playing sports and roasting marshmallows at campfires, I came face to face with my newly developing feminine wiles.

Summer fun, roasting marshmellows

    And Now What

Little girl becomes a woman

I also learned to talk, or not talk to boys. Learning to flirt was a big part of my summertime experience.

Two Teenage Couples Learning About Love

The short window between day camp ending, and being called home for dinner found all the emotionally reluctant boys, and curious girls hanging out together in the enormous bungalow colony clubhouse. Late afternoon sunlight created the illusion of nighttime, and made us feel like grown-ups.

The Music We Loved

Girls sprawled across the jukebox listening to Mony Mony by Tommy James & The Shondells, and music by the Boxtops; sometimes we fed the machine a quarter to play a wistful Lovin’ Spoonful song. Girls encamped on one side of the room, boys staked out on the other, pretending not to notice each other.

Painfully Obvious

Boys thrusted their hips against mighty pinball machines, fervently pressing flippers in hopes of influencing the balls trajectory, questing to win a free game, and earning bragging rights.  Day after day, week after week, pre-teen boys and girls fumbled through being together, desperate to conceal painfully obvious crushes.

Drum majorette inside a classic pinball machine

Many evenings after all the kids had been fed, the wistful  husbandless moms met to play mah-jongg or Canasta. My sisters and I would promise our mom that we would watch our younger brother, but we esentially ignored him, and spent the evening listening to the playlist of a New York top 40 station with a barely audible signal. We swatted mosquitos, ate ice cream, and practiced dancing, thinking about  standing next to a cute boy at  flagpole assembly the next morning. My sisters and I fell asleep listening to the sound of chirping crickets, and left the door unlocked for my mom. Boys too young to shave, whose voices were just starting to sound more like their father’s than their mother’s awkwardly spent the  summer getting to know  girls who were just starting  to shave their legs. We weren’t really friends, and we didn’t know how to be anything else to each other. Just as a newborn foal is determined to stand up and walk on its own, it was inevitable that  our clumsy interaction would lead to learning something about the opposite sex. These summers were my primer for boy meets girl, and what to do, or not do. They were the summers of love…


Daycamp Crush

Boy on Girl

The date of my wedding was August 18th. I signed divorce papers twelve years later, almost to the day. Signing those documents during the summer annihilated the innocence I once associated with carefree warm weather months.

Sitting in a blur

Jill and daughters outside Santa Monica house, newly divorced.

As a divorced mother of three I again faced figuring out how to navigate and integrate with the opposite sex. Faintly recalling memories of sweet summer love and innocent crushes, I struggled to recover from the loss and betrayal connected to my divorce, and wondered if adult intimate relationships would always and forever cause me pain.

With my innocence about love blown to smithereens, I was knee deep in confusion, remorse, dark humor, shame, and sometimes anger. My clumsy adult interactions with the opposite sex still sometimes leave me feeling as naive as when I was eleven. Damn It…

Jill in heels

I’ve been on blind dates wishing at the start that I wouldn’t feel terrible about myself if I introduced myself as Jill’s twin, saying she had suddenly been called out of town. A stab at on-line dating found me reading emails from men (on two separate occasions) who felt compelled to let me know that they thought my face was “so skinny” they would never date me. One evening when leaving an event, I ran into a guy I casually knew and asked him if he would like to get a drink. I was sure I wasn’t inviting him on a date, but he interpreted that question differently. He ordered two drinks and something to eat. I sipped a single malt scotch and picked at the shared order of fries. When the check came I said I had no cash. Before I could finish the sentence he too said he had none. I let him know that I was sure the waiter could put half on each of our cards. “You don’t seem to understand, he said, I don’t have any money, and I don’t have a credit card. I don’t leave my house with money. You invited me out, so I assumed you’d pay.” Knowing in that instant that I would never intentionally see him again, I paid the check, and left.

The Wind is Up

One night out with a group of friends, I was seated next to an attractive guy.  Shortly after the meal began I got a text saying “Will you go to dinner with me sometime?” It was sent by the same man sitting right next to me. I turned to him letting him know I would prefer if he actually asked me personally. More than a decade my junior I knew from this interaction that we did things differently. He never asked me again.

Love in the Foreground

And when another man I briefly went out with, more than ten years my junior asked if we shouldn’t consider seeing each other until someone better or more appropriate came along, I  again knew that I would prefer to date someone closer to my own age. After an absence of many months I recently ran into him at an event, where he made sure to tell me he was seeing someone. Hmmm. I’m sure my mother would have an expression for him in Yiddish. And although lost in translation, the guttural sound of the idiom would suggest that he should grow like an onion with his head in the ground.

True Colors

And then there are the married men who think no one will find out. The ones who casually suggest some kind of interlude, tryst, affair… I’m not sure why they ask me, maybe it’s my “bedroom eyes”, or my just got out of bed hairstyle, but I’m not interested in salacious, can’t be seen together in public sorts of clandestine relationships,and I never say yes.

Blinded hotel

Recently one of the most handsome men I’ve ever met, also many years my junior handed me his card and TOLD me to text him. I was flattered, but speechless.  He didn’t ask me, it was a command. Presumably innocent on his part, my past experience with demanding men immediately triggered fear and foretold of what an interaction with him might be like.  His cavalier swagger was a harbinger of what was to come.

Dark Room

He told me not to tell anyone about us. There was no us, but that didn’t stop me from wondering if he was married, or was there some other reason why he wanted to keep this encounter a secret?  He was very tall, with a beautiful mixed race complexion, and was so incredibly handsome, but what did I already know about him? I knew that he was commanding, which in my mind translates immediately into adamant, forceful and demanding. Given his insistent and secretive nature, I knew that despite any desire I might have felt, it wouldn’t be in my best interest to contact him.

Always Next Summer

It doesn’t end there… I could retell other encounters of the ill-fated attention I have received from the opposite sex, but I think my entanglements of boy meets girl are amply clear. But there’s always next summer.

Golden Dream -Pedro Ruiz

“Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.” – Eckhart Tolle

…Hey, I just met you,

And this is crazy,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe?

And all the other boys,

Try to chase me,

But here’s my number,

So call me, maybe?

Before you came into my life

I missed you so bad

I missed you so bad

I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life

I missed you so bad

And you should know that

I missed you so, so bad…

Carly Rae Jepson – CALL ME MAYBE

RAW REFLECTION: I chose not to contact the man that commanded me to text him. As I drove through afternoon traffic that day I wondered what it might have been like if I had. What would you have done?

To read about my past relationship with a very controlling man please see –


















Lasting Promises


Painting by Jill Slaughter of anatomical heart on pattern background with lamp, chair and female figure.

All the Lies You Told - Jill Slaughter 18" x 24" acrylic on canvas

I have shopped, and paid for more than twenty black eyeliners. Though similar, they all held the promise of being quite different. A hollow assurance of being the one and only, the last one you’ll need to buy. The one you can dedicate yourself to. The one that will become yours.

Several are on the tray of cosmetics I use on a regular basis; others are in my travel make up case. A few are in random purses, while still others are in the draw of my desk at work. A single pencil is stashed in the vinyl case my dentist gave me so that every time I brush my teeth during the day I can re-apply the liner that came with the promise of 24-hour wear.

An eyeliner that lasts all day is as elusive as the African Galago monkey. A determined consumer is more likely to see this nocturnal primate while shopping than she (he) is to actually purchase the eyeliner that doesn’t fade, smudge or simply disappear.

Jill's collection of black eyeliners including pencils, creams, gels, and liquids

Jill's assortment of black eyeliners.

Midnight, deep charcoal, ebony, jet black, kohl, cream, gel, wands, pencils, liquid, dramatic, intense, bold, smooth, professional, all eyeliners. The ultimate formula may be included in these many varieties; however I am among the legions of hopefuls still searching for the one that doesn’t turn into goop in the corner of your eye within fifteen minutes of the initial application. Still searching for the one that lasts.

Some of my purchases came hand wrapped in tissue paper gently placed into a small glossy laminated paper bag by a salesperson enthusiastically promising that this one really worked. Some were bought along with a bottle of witch hazel and a bag of cotton balls, all dumped into a plastic sack at the dollar store. It didn’t matter. The packaging was sometimes convincing, sometimes it was just an impulse to try yet another brand. Always hoping it would be the one.

Sitting in the alley behind my house Harry asked me to be his girlfriend. He lived across the street from my house. He was blond, cute and the bad boy type. He smoked. I was eleven. Hoping my mom wouldn’t be looking out the window we gently kissed to cement our romance. We had seen each other around the neighborhood and that seemed to be the only criteria he needed to ask me to be his. Apparently I needed equally minimal amounts of information to enter into a relationship. That lack of discrimination became my map for dating.

Jill Slaughter - age 14, with long-term boyfriend

Jill (age 14) at beach with long-term boyfriend

As a teenager I dated the same boy for four years. At age fourteen I became his girlfriend, and we dated exclusively until I left for college. I liked him, and came to love him, but only started dating him because he was so good looking. That hollow attribute became added to my limited list of requirements for choosing a partner.

I have been dating for decades. “Off the market”, for a time because of my long term marriage, I am none the less a very experienced dater. Partners have included intellectuals, artists, lawyers, doctors, photographers, carpenters, entrepreneurs, trust funders, executives, academics, authors, actors, and do nothings.

Three boxers painted on a dumpster with "You've Got Your Spell On Me Baby" painted across the image

The Love Boxer - Richard Kurtz, house paint on dumpster.

Each budding romance held the promise of a lasting relationship. Each time I thought it would be my last first kiss. Each of us thinking this union would be the formula for success. The alchemy of idiosyncrasies and compassion that would allow a relationship to flourish.

The package has been different among the men I dated. Some came with glossy wrapping, others more plastic bag kind of guys, but it didn’t matter. I was attracted to something in each of them that had more to do with the outside than the content. My recent copy of a popular fashion magazine devoted almost a half page to a new eyeliner, guaranteed to last. But, only promising to work if the wearer follows a multi step process for application, none the less, it promises to work.

Yesterday , an acrylic on canvas painting 18"x24" of anatomical heart on patterned background with lamp and figure by Jill Slaughter.

Yesterday - by Jill Slaughter

The multi step process I now give serious thought to is seeing beyond the wrapping and getting to know all about the content of a potential partner. Because my mom, whose happy marriage has flourished for almost sixty years is still watching, as are my three beautiful daughters.

Photograph of Jill as teenager – Julio Mitchel


Strange(r) Compliment

Strange(r) Compliment

I wondered if I should get back into my car and go home. Instead I continued to wait for him outside the restaurant. There is still enough of a nighttime breeze in early October to make wearing long sleeves comfortable. Flounced at the collar and adorned with lace the blush colored pink shirt was more feminine than I usually wore. To offset the girlishness I paired it with an olive green knit mini skirt, dark tights and knee high boots the same color as the skirt which added three inches to my height. Read more »

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