There Will Be Hell Toupee

On Christmas Day I had a freaky bit of synchronicity in the Grey Ghost. 

Before it makes any sense, you’ll need some background to understand how truly bizarre this really was, and why the hair on my arms stood on end when it happened.

In a Throwback Thursday from August of 2017, Not Now Silly was never more confessional than when I revealed my lifelong, sick obsession. In Toupee Or Not Toupee I showed off my voluminous analog file on . . . err . . . toupees, which I started compiling way back in the ’70s, long before the world went digital. Among the many clipped articles in this file is the one to the left, from the Toronto Sun, all about me (which is my favourite kind of article).

Like many Canadians I read Gary Dunford’s daily Page Six column because it was interesting, maddening, and funny, occasionally all at once. In response to something he said concerning toupees I wrote him a long letter, which he quoted extensively. Because the text is so small, here’s what he wrote:

Thursday, January 13, 1983
Page Six gets many strange letters.
(Boy does it ever, snipes the city desk.)
But the strangest letter of a yet-young year is one from an Ottawa [sic] Page Sixer, an inventor who wants to sell us his new machine.
It is called a Toup-Alarm (patent pending, all rights reserved, nobody dare steal this idea).
“You merely set the alarm,” writes the inventor, “and go about your business in complete security. When you come into range of a bad toupee, the alarm automatically sounds. The noise it makes is a loud whoop-whoop-whoop, which alerts the carrier to a bad hairpiece.
“The vain man with the bad toupee does not know the alarm is sounding because of him and runs to the nearest exit thinking there has been a fire.
“I have been testing this device for the last two months with complete success . . . I feel very strongly about this matter.”
The inventor adds that the Toup-Alarm only goes off in response to “really bad rugs” and would not whoop-whoop for Burt Reynolds, William Shatner, Carl and Rob Reiner or “anyone else who wears an unidentifiable toup.”
Surely this is a device whose time has come.
Make the streets safe from unsightly fuzz.
The Page salutes Canadian inventors and all those who would help Turn This Country Around.
God bless us, every one.
Whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop . . .

The actual Toup File with a list of wearers

Aside from messing up my city, the rest is totally accurate. I really did write him such a letter and he really did quote parts of it in his column. However, I don’t have to tell you that there was really no Toup-Alarm machine. It was something I made up to fool Dunford.

However, there was a very real Toup-Alarm.

The Toup-Alarm was something that my oldest friend in Canada, Stephen, and I played around with while out in public. You see, Stephen shared my fascination with bad rugs (just not to the same obsessive degree). When we were out and about, if either of us spotted a bad toupee, we’d do the whoop-whoop-whoop sound with our voices. That would alert the other to take a discrete look around to see if they could spot the same wig.

This video reveals just a small fraction of my toupee file

Which [finally] brings us to Christmas Day.

While UberLyfting on the holiday I got a passenger named Joey, who was going from Hialeah all the way to Pompano Beach, which is a good long run with a lot of time for conversation. He needed to make a stop part of the way there to pick up a set of keys at his place of business, about 2/3rds the way to his sister’s house. We yabbered about all kinds of things until we got to his place of business, which turned out to be a hair replacement company in Fort Lauderdale. His family has been in the toup business for decades after being started by his father in 1962.

The only thing I wanted to talk about after that was my utter fascination with toupees.

Once Joey realized I was serious he apologized for not wearing his rug. He was wearing a baseball cap, but said his wig was 100% undetectable. In other words he was “not only the president, but a customer” just like Sy Sperling in the commercials for the Hair Club For Men.

We talked about the difference between good toups and bad rugs and it was his contention that a really good rug was always undetectable. I corrected him by pointing out that even the best toups in the world look like bad rugs on tee vee because they reflect the light differently. He said I was absolutely right and asked how I knew that.

“Didn’t I just tell you I’ve been fascinated by toupees my entire adult life?”

When I mentioned the names of a few celebs who had fairly good rugs, which still reflected the light differently, including Jack Klugman among them. Joey told me his family did Klugman, along with Marv Albert.

Now, here’s the crazy synchronicity: I had just explained to the gentleman all about the Toup-Alarm when a Happy Holiday text came in from my friend Stephen, the only other person in the world who knows the truth about the Toup-Alarm.

Joey took my business card. I sure hope he calls. If not, I now know where the local toup factory is. I just might take my Toup File down there to demonstrate my bona fides to Joey.

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Headly Westerfield
Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.