An Open Letter to My Back Hair

Here’s a piece I wrote that was rejected by humor website McSweeney’s, but almost immediately accepted by the editors of

Dear Back Hair –

From the moment I saw you, I’ve plotted to reclaim my land, but you’ve proven to be a cunning adversary with vast ranks. During our first battle, I was an 18 year old boy on a mission to be found attractive by 18 year girls – the formation of your ranks would surely mean the demise of my mission.

You captured two patches of land just below Shoulder Blade Valley, making my body look as though it was growing angel wings or turning into Robin Williams on layaway. So I plotted. I blocked your sight-lines under a shirt and surreptitiously acquired a weapon of mass destruction: Nair.

Yes, that’s right, Back Hair, I admit to engaging in chemical warfare, using the lye and slaked-lime cream to denude your armies from my body just as a forest fire would chew through a field of oak.

But my plot was foolish, Back Hair. I was too cocksure and too quick to claim victory. I allowed the Nair to attack your ranks for 30 minutes until I felt a sizzling sensation. My Nervous System flickered with pain, calling out to my Brain in a panic, “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Is it supposed to hurt this much?” My Brain went silent, flummoxed.

Struggling through Nervous System’s screams of pain, Brain ordered Eyes to search the Nair bottle for a sign of comfort, something like “Expect to feel terrible, burning pain.” But in the haze of war, all Eyes could see was “Do not exceed 10 minutes…” before my body sprung into action, furiously wiping and rinsing and howling in pain.

The battlefield, scotched with chemical burns, made my body appear less as a budding Robin Williams and more as some schmuck who laid out in the sun with a couple of hot-pink Peeps on his back.

We both lost a lot of good men that day, Back Hair. Your troops had retreated, mine had destroyed themselves by destroying you. It was a Pyrrhic victory. I knew that one day, you’d be back.

In the 14 years since the Battle of Nair, we’ve had many epic battles. However, I’ve found my razor and clippers to be no match for your speed, fecundity, and immense ranks. You’ve made settlements across my neck, my shoulders, and most horrifyingly, my ass crack. Brilliant tactile moves, Back Hair. I have realized that I am not as keen as you, not as patient, not as thick in resolve or ranks.

But after years of war, I write to you in peace. I’d like to proffer a peace treaty: You can maintain all of the territories you’ve won – from the neck to the crack – growing thicker and darker if you desire, and I will not make any attempt to cut, remove, or manscape.

In exchange for this detente, I’d like to form a phalanx with you and Head Hair to stop my hairline from receding. I come to you now to avoid a proxy war later between you and a hair transplant doctor.

I know that you and Head Hair have a shaky relationship – after all, you come from different places. You’ve grown apart. You’re black and Head Hair is red. But I ask not for a guarantee of success; instead, I ask for a partnership. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, our our friendship will battle our ultimate enemy. Together, we can assist the Head Hair infantry in its battle against Time.

Please consider this treaty, Back Hair.

In solidarity,


Hal Conick

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