I'd had no intention of watching "Dateline," a news show, this past Friday night. I just couldn't turn away from the shots of a gaunt, pale woman preparing to shave her head. The voiceover explained that she'd been fighting cancer for several years, and this round of chemotherapy had caused her hair to fall out. Determined to stay in control of what she could, she defiantly turned on the clippers and removed the last few locks clinging to her head like cobwebs in a corner.
At first I didn't recognize her, thinking it was just another unfortunate saga of life threatening illness. Then the announcer said her name: Farrah Fawcett. I froze. This is the actress I was so jealous of when I was a pudgy, socially awkward ninth grader with bad skin? At the time, she'd starred in "Charlie's Angels." I had tried really hard to get my nondescript brown hair to look like hers, tried to starve myself down to her size so that I, too, could wear a red bathing suit as she had in the iconic poster. Boys would fight for the privilige of my company, and so on with the fantasies of a fourteen year old.
It took time, but my skin calmed down, my weight stablized at a healthy if non-Hollywood level for myself, and I started getting my hair cut by professionals rather than trying to do it myself in a bathroom mirror with less than optimal scissors. The guys showed up, too, poets and techies rather than the lowest all-too-common denominator that she appealed to.
I don't recall anything that she'd been in after "Charlie's Angels," save a disasterous appearnce on David Letterman, until now. She'd been a fixture in the tabloids, though, and done a video for "Playboy" for her fiftieth birthday.
I sincerely doubt I will do the same when my fifthieth rolls around. But I am pretty confident that I won't be allowing filming of my final days.