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VOL. 38 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 5, 2014

Guys, it’s way past time to get over the comb over

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I get a laugh now and again for telling what the crossword clues are for the term “comb over.” In light of a recent story from the sports page, I can’t resist writing about the topic. For your edification, of course.

In 2010, the New York Times ran a puzzle by Brad Wilber in which the answer “comb over” was clued “Cover-up unlikely to fool anyone.” Byron Walden and Caleb Madison clued “comb overs” as “Dos that are don’ts.”

“Comb over” also has been used in clues. For instance, “toupee” has been clued as “Comb over alternative,” “bald spot” as “Comb over target,” and “sparse” as “Like hair under a comb over.”

Best I can tell, comb overs are universally disliked and their devotees derided. Even my barber frowns on them.

Over the past decade, I’ve had to admit, grudgingly, that the top of my head is doing a lot more than shining through my haircut. Even when I volumize, condition and brush.

So, along comes Greg Doyel, sports columnist for the Indianapolis Star, to provide the ultimate in comb over stories, targeting Gene Keady, head coach for 24 years at Purdue University. He began his head coaching career at Western Kentucky in 1978.

It seems Keady, who had a 26-year run as a Division 1 basketball coach, lost the comb-over he’d sported for a couple of decades. This happened a few months before he got married earlier this year.

In the column, Doyel reveals that Keady told him, “I don’t mind you writing about my hair.” There followed an interview, in which the coach bared all: “It was ugly,” he acknowledged.

Keady also admitted that others had asked him, “What is it? Why are you doing it?” Whether he responded truthfully back then or not, he now admits, “I did it because I was on TV. … I was going bald. I thought I looked gorgeous with the comb over.”

“It was embarrassing,” Doyel writes. “It was dyed black and wrapped around his head like a turban.” It was also artificially enhanced.

“What, you think a man can just roll out of bed and look like that?” Doyel exclaims. “So he brought in his personal hairdresser twice a week during the season to tidy it up. She came with extensions. She came with hair dye. She came with cream.”

And, after each treatment, twice a week, she left with $300! That’s $600 a week! Over 30 grand a year! To be certain that every day is a bad hair day.

Things changed in 2011, when Keady met a woman to whom he took a liking. They married in June of this year.

During their courtship, though, “she let it go almost a year,” the coach says. And then one day she was with him when “my barber came by. When that was finished, she said, ‘Let’s go.’ She sat me down, pulled out the electric razor, and zzzzzzt.”

Even though it’s yesterday’s news, I needed to tell this story. Because, whatever’s in store for me, it’s not that!

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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