Work in Progress (No, really)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Economics of Hair Loss

+ No comment yet
“Wigs don’t last long. Bet you didn’t know: toupees are good for two, maybe three years max. The better made they are, the faster they get used up. They’re the ultimate consumer product. It’s ‘cause they fit so tightly against the scalp: the hair underneath gets thinner than ever. Once that happens, you have to buy a new one to get that perfect fit again. And think about it: What if you were using a toupee and it was no good after two years-what would go through your mind? Would you think, OK, my wig’s worn out. Can’t wear it anymore. But it’ll cost too much to buy a new one, so tomorrow I’ll start going to work without one? Is that what you’d think?”

I shook my head. “Probably not,” I said.

“Of course not. Once a guy starts using a wig, he has to keep using one. It’s, like, his fate. That’s why the wig makers make such huge profits. I hate to say it, but they’re like drug dealers. Once they get their hooks into a guy, he’s a customer for life. Have you ever heard of a. bald guy suddenly growing a head of hair? I never have. A wig’s got to cost half a million yen at least, maybe a million for a tough one. And you need a new one every two years! Wow! Even a car lasts longer than that-four or five years. And then you can trade it in!”

“I see what you mean,” I said. “Plus, the wig makers run their own hairstyling salons. They wash the wigs and cut the customers’ real hair. I mean, think about it: you can’t just plunk yourself down in an ordinary barber’s chair, rip off your wig, and say, ‘I’d like a trim,’ can you? The income from these places alone is tremendous.”

“You know all kinds of things,” I said, with genuine admiration. The B-category company type next to May was listening to our conversation with obvious fascination. “Sure,” she said. “The guys at the office like me. They tell me everything. The profits in this business are huge. They make the wigs in Southeast Asia and places like that, where labor is cheap. They even get the hair there- in Thailand or the Philippines. The women sell their hair to the wig companies. That’s how they earn their dowries in some places. The whole world’s so weird! The guy sitting next to you might actually be wearing the hair of some woman in Indonesia.”

By reflex, I and the B-man looked around at the others in the car.

-- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

Post a Comment