"You know, since I've been eating these chia seeds, I've noticed my beard has gotten heavier."
My husband, Peter, was talking to my father downstairs. I sat up at attention.
This comment about the chia seeds was news to me. I knew Peter was eating chia seeds because he thought it might lower his cholesterol. Peter is always reading articles about health, and I don't usually pay a lot of attention. He reads scientific studies about a variety of things. The studies are rarely conclusive, but if they indicate that eating chia seeds might be a good thing, Peter starts eating them every morning.
My cholesterol is low, and I've never eaten a chia seed in my life. But this information about his beard caught my attention. For one full moment.
Then I realized this was Peter's way of making a joke.
"You mean like a Chia Pet?" I hollered downstairs.
Peter started laughing and my dad groaned, and I was deeply disappointed. Because I was actually hoping it was true.
I had been hoping -- for one long and optimistic moment -- that chia seeds might help my hair. My hair is so wispy at this point that saying I look like a dandelion gone to seed is doing dandelions a disservice. I look at photos of myself taken a couple of years ago and can see I used to have a lot more hair. I can see a trajectory, and it's not going in the right direction. I wouldn't mind one bit if I started to resemble a Chia Pet. It would be a big step up, as I see it.
"Yes!" Peter laughed. "I've started to look like a Chia Pet!"
Now, this is almost true. Peter has a lot of hair. His whole family has a talent for growing hair. But the idea of a real-life, Chia Pet-type cure stayed with me. That's the trouble with getting your hopes up. When I was reconciled to being bald as a cue ball by 70, everything was fine. Get me hoping I might grow more hair -- even for a moment -- and I suddenly see this future filled with hair. I see luxuriant long tresses cascading down my back. OK, not really. But I imagine having enough hair where it would make a noticeable difference if I ran a comb over my head or not.
I discovered, unsurprisingly, that there were a lot of folks happy to sell products to grow more hair. There were legions of photos of impossibly long, thick hair and products associated with these photos, claiming to take credit. It was a swamp of dubious information and misplaced hopes and snake oil. It was irresistible. I ordered some supplements.
"I'm just gonna give this a try!" I told myself late at night as I imprudently ordered enough product to get me through the next three months.
The product is "guaranteed or your money back," but I know how that goes. Nobody wants to say they were suckered. Nobody wants to admit they got their hopes up. Nobody wants to come back and report that they now have almost no hair at all and would feel a lot better if they at least had the 30 bucks back that they spent, so they could buy a hat to keep their head warm, since their hair was no longer doing the job.