Come home, Joe Maddon!
We, the gray-haired men of America, beseech you to put down your dye kit, to withhold your money from salons and stylists and to embrace the silver path that nature has laid out for you.
You started dying your hair last season, a subtle journey that took unwitting observers from that iconic grayish-white mane to the thought that something was apparently wrong with the lighting in the room to, no, Joe’s hair was indeed getting distinctly darker to oh, my gosh, there’s a black labradoodle sitting on the Cubs manager’s head!
The realization that our hero had gone to the dark side was fully upon us, and it shook us to our roots.
But over the weekend, a white flower poked its head up through the Arizona desert. You had your hair shorn for a charity that raises money to fight childhood cancer. For a moment, you looked like a snowy owl. Beautiful. You had been given a do-over, a chance to make things right and grayish white. And to our relief, you seemed to be taking advantage of it.
But word has reached us that you have begun dying the stubble and that Just for Men, a company that makes hair-dye products, has contacted you about a possible endorsement deal. Worse, you have called the company back.
We who are blessed with gray hair want you to know that we believe in freedom of choice and that you should be able to do what you want. We’d also like to think we’re above telling you that men with dye jobs look like either a rusty sink or an oil spill. Or like Sylvester Stallone. So, three things.
We’re here to remind you that you made gray cool, Joe. You were the white-haired hipster manager with the black-framed glasses. There was no one like you. You were a kitschy white Christmas tree with red ornaments, and it was a look that worked. It was your calling card since before your days with the Cubs. And we lived vicariously through you.
Then you became every actor, entertainer and TV newscaster trying to look 20 years younger. You weren’t in Paul McCartney or Bob Costas territory quite yet, but you were certainly on the bus (not a Greyhound).
Gray hair denotes wisdom. Dyed hair in middle-aged men denotes: “It was either this or a Ferrari. I went with this.’’ Joe, dying your hair makes it seem as if you’re not completely comfortable with yourself. And that’s the last thing that we’d ever think you’d be. A man who doesn’t care what anybody thinks about his managing — a man who refused to admit that he overused Aroldis Chapman in the 2016 World Series despite the sight of Chapman’s arm lying on the ground — wouldn’t seem to care what anybody thinks about his aging.
Women dye their hair, and society celebrates it. Middle-aged men dye their hair, and mass snickering ensues, always behind their back. When the first caveman to dye his hair caught his buddies laughing, they insisted that he had it all wrong, that they were trying to pick mastodon meat out of their teeth. He was pretty sure they were lying.
Gray hair can look distinguished. We know: Distinguished sounds like code for old going on deceased. You don’t want to be one of those managers who refuses to evolve with the game. You think it’s important to keep going forward as you age.
But you won the 2016 World Series with gray hair, and you lost the 2017 National League Championship Series with dyed hair. We, the gray, don’t believe in coincidence when it suits our purposes.
Check out the most recent photos of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. He has gone from a thick helmet of black hair to a thick helmet of gray hair. He looks great. Well, sure, being incarcerated might have separated him from his chemicals, but the point here is that the man looks fabulous. The blue prison shirt brings out the silver tones in his hair. We’re not threatening you with federal prison, Joe, but you know, whatever it takes.
We gray heads and graybeards just want you to know we’re everywhere. We live good lives. People don’t walk by as if we’re not here. They put coins in our cups. Kidding! It’s good to be gray, and it’s better than being bald. But that’s a column for another day.
Look, the only time a middle-aged man should have dye on him is if he robs a bank. Don’t rob a bank, Joe. And don’t do that endorsement deal with Just for Men.
Be strong. Come back to the sheepfold. Come home.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.