Hard rock," declared the blow-dried TV reporter as he did his live bit outside the stadium, "is about big sound, big theatrics and big hair!" No kidding, thought Masher. Big hair. He had his back to the camera as he jumped on the tour bus, so network viewers didn’t see him roll his eyes as he reached for his vial of Propecia. Let’s see how long your locks are in 20 years, pal.
"Masher" – or as he was known in the real world, Ron Feinstein – was the keyboard player for the heavy metal band, Chrome God. He was also 38 years old and was losing his hair, which is why he had a bottle of Propecia pills in the first place.
"Got to do something about it, dude," Pete, their lead singer had warned him, shaking his head as if Ron had a serious coke habit or something else evil. "I mean it’s starting to show." Which was code for: you’re affecting our image. Which is hurting my image. Schmuck, thought Ron. He knew Pete was going gray but had been dyeing his hair for five years.
In truth, before he even got the prescription for Propecia, Ron had felt a drop in confidence. It wasn’t that gaggles of giggling college girls no longer swarmed around him in their skimpy belly shirts and low-rider jeans after a gig the way they did Pete – oh, maybe not a gaggle, perhaps two or three. It was more a case of, well…
He remembered a girl after their concert in Seattle who only went by the name of Bunny, one who had quite the delectable little hourglass figure, and the sex was enthusiastic, no problem there, but afterwards this happy, sweet creature had felt like talking in bed. She’d struggled through her midterms, she confided, and was thinking of switching her major. And Ron "Masher" Feinstein, who was supposed to go to Goldman Sachs in the 80s after graduation but had wound up going to Norway instead, opening with the boys for Bon Jovi, had urged her, "Sure, if you switch to economics, the banks will need you."
She had looked up at him with the sweetest smile and said, "Gee, I wish I could talk with my Dad the way I can talk with you."
She had cuddled closer to him, and he’d gulped and thought: Oh-oh.
Ron Gets Help With Propecia
I shouldn’t need Propecia, he’d thought. I’m not old. It’s the lifestyle that’s aging me. Different hotel rooms every night and never seeing what Copenhagen or Pittsburgh actually looked like. He made a reference to Vietnam once in an interview with a V-J for MTV, and the girl had flashed him a surfer grin, as if ignorance were a virtue, and had chirped, "Oh, I wasn’t born then."
He didn’t even like a lot of heavy metal music. He had joined the band inspired by Zeppelin and classic Boston, but lately Chrome God was less Black Sabbath to him and more Spinal Tap. Jeez, what was he doing, wearing studded leather jackets? So what was the point of taking Propecia?
Their tours, of course, always had a round-the-clock physician, Bill – a real doctor. Not Pete’s feng shui expert for hotel rooms, not Danny’s herbal shaman, and definitely not Ted’s astrologer who spent most of his time on the bus working on his screenplay about the zombie resurrection of Jim Morrison. Bill the Doctor was legit, and he had written Ron’s prescription for Propecia.
"You take Propecia once a day, with or without food," explained Bill. "You stop taking Propecia, the effects will gradually go away, so you got to stick with it. But the good news is you’ll probably see results from Propecia in about three months. Propecia helps you keep the hair you still have, plus you might even grow back hair you lost. Not just stubbly bits either, real, proper thick hair."
"Maybe this is stupid," sighed Ron. "It’s vain. Is this any way for an adult male to live? Pete’s got a couple of twins in there who are being taken miles away from home, and when he’s done with them, those poor girls will wind up with hangovers and God knows what else, hitching a Greyhound back!"
Bill offered a philosophical smile. "Hey, everyone projects an image. Sure, they should respect the real you, but they got to get to the real you first. Propecia helps you keep the appearance that gives you the most confidence and helps you be effective. Let me put it this way: if I was your family GP, and you were a bond trader, I think you’d still come to me wanting Propecia because you’d need to be as dynamic on a trading floor as on a concert stage."
Ron shrugged, feeling a little silly. "Yeah, you’re right. I probably would."
Bill leaned in and clapped him on the shoulder. "Look, I don’t know if it’s an honor to be the ‘mature one’ of the group or not – but if you feel awkward about banging twenty-year-olds in one-night stands, that’s because maybe – just maybe – you’re not supposed to anymore. I can tell you, however, that the 30-year-old lady who’s worth your attention and your caring… that woman will appreciate a guy who doesn’t try to stay a teenager." He glanced meaningfully at the little bedroom area in the back of the bus where Pete was enjoying his visitors. "But she will like a man who tries to stay youthful."
Propecia and A New Youthful Perspective
He stayed with the tour. And kept taking Propecia. Just as Bill promised, the Propecia rewarded him with a thick growth of new hair, which led to longer, smoldering glances from female fans… All of which he ignored. Maybe he had started taking Propecia for the sake of the band’s image, but it was helping his confidence with something else, his growing awareness he needed to change his priorities.
Pete, of course, was neither gracious nor happy when Masher called it quits, sneering that, fine, they could get another keyboard player. Of course, you can, Ron had answered smoothly. It was one of the reasons why he needed to leave. He knew now that his life shouldn’t be interchangeable with someone else’s and certainly not some parody of a teenager’s dream of fame.
Bill went out to dinner with him the night after the tour ended, handing him a Propecia prescription as a "going away present." Ron had to ask him: "Why do you stay with this zoo? We treated you horribly, like some indentured servant or–"
"You didn’t," replied.
"Well, thanks, I hope I didn’t. But why stay?"
Bill let him have another one of his wise smiles. "Oh, I’m not up on stage embarrassing myself. And I’ve been saving up – I won’t be with them too much longer. You know the problem with your fearless bandleader is he always thought ‘ruthless’ was the same as ‘smart.’ I can say that, by the way, because I can say anything I want – no one ever made me sign a gag order."
Ron looked at him in surprise, slowly catching his meaning. Then Bill held up a thick sheaf of bound manuscript, and it was quite clear. "Don’t worry, Ron, you come off looking pretty good in my book." Ron burst out laughing, and they shook hands when they parted.
Blessed with his new head of hair thanks to Propecia, plus some hard work re-entering his old line of business, he got a job at the "ground level" of an investment commodities firm. Two hundred grand a year was certainly more than okay.
Propecia once a day, and a new job, he thought. On Thursday, the lovely blond in Acquisitions who must be about 34 stepped up to his desk with the little CD liner notes from Chrome God’s seventh album. "This is you, isn’t it?" she laughed, feeling embarrassed.
"It was me," he said with an indulgent smile. "Back when I was old."
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