Eating McDonald's Fries Won't Cure Baldness, I'm Afraid

"I don't get it, Kid," said Karl, "you've clearly spent a lifetime eating McDonald's fries, but you don't have as much hair on your head as I thought you would."

I told Karl to go perform an anatomically impossible act on himself. I don't know how you did it, I said, but you managed to insult me at least four different ways.

Karl held up his hands. "I'm sorry, that came out all wrong. What I meant to say was, 'Have you heard how McDonald's fries could be a cure for baldness?'"

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over my empty beer mug, I said. We were at First Editions, our favorite literary-themed bar. There was a reading that night featuring a lineup of male writers talking about the importance of female representation in entertainment and business.

Karl sighed, "Kurt, two more beers, please. Put them on my tab."

I took a drink of my new beer. Okay, please explain your insulting comment, I said, and see if you can do it without making it any worse.

"Well, there was a news story about a study that said a chemical in McDonald's fries may cure baldness."

And this applies to me how?

He pointed at my waistline. "You're clearly a connoisseur of their fries, and yet you've lost a lot of your hair."

You know what? I'm going to need something more expensive before you speak again. I waved at Kurt. Two 18-year-old Scotches, please. And get Karl whatever he wants, he's buying. Kurt smiled and began pouring.

"I didn't realize you were going to be such a baby about this," said Karl.

Try using your nice words for a change, I said. He started to say something and then closed his mouth. I drank the first Scotch as he continued.

"There was a study done in Japan that showed a chemical in McDonald's cooking oil has helped grow hair on some lab rats. They're saying this could eventually be used as a baldness cure in humans. So I figured with as many fries as you've eaten, you'd have more hair."

First of all, I said, I haven't gorged myself on McDonald's fries all my life. I have them once every couple of months, that's it. Second, I have plenty of hair. I have more than you, in fact.

"Yeah, but I'm 68 years old." He thought for a minute. "Ooh, maybe you have a lot of hair in your esophagus. Do you have trouble swallowing?"

I rolled my eyes at him. Besides, I saw the same study, I said. You can't cure baldness by eating McDonald's fries, otherwise Donald Trump would look like a bearskin rug. Instead, someone posted a video of him last week boarding Air Force One in the wind and the back of his hair blew open like a door. The guy eats McDonald's every day and his hair still does that.

Karl laughed. "Yeah, I remember that. I kept expecting something to pop out of there." He pulled the article up on his phone and began to read. "Apparently these scientists at Yokohama National University mass-produced something called 'hair follicle germs,' which actually grow the hair. And they used this silicone chemical — dimethyl-something-or-other — to grow the HFGs, which they planted into a hairless mouse. A few days later, they started seeing some hairs grow in that spot, and realized this could be used to help cure baldness."

So, no one had to eat any fries, I asked.

"Well, no. That's too bad." Karl thought for a minute. "Maybe if you rubbed the fries on your head where you wanted the hair to grow?"

Eww, no! For one thing, I don't want to rub a bunch of greasy potatoes on my head. For another, that's a waste of perfectly good french fries. Third, now I want some fries. Kurt, can we get a basket of fries over here, please?

Karl looked back at his phone. "It says here that the U.S. hair loss treatment manufacturing industry was worth $6 billion in 2016."

What, seriously? You mean, like the hair transplant clubs and that hair in a can stuff?

"I don't know about spray-on hair," said Karl, scrolling through the article. "But it does include hair restoration equipment for transplants and replacements, plus oral and topical treatments."

There's a lot of money in vanity, I said. Midlife crises are expensive. Makes me wonder how big the gold chain and unbuttoned shirt market is.

"Also, the erectile dysfunction drug market should reach $3.4 billion in a couple years."

There's something McDonald's fries won't cure, no matter how many you eat, I said.

"I'll have to take your word for it," said Karl. "I wouldn't know."

Maybe you should give it a try, I said. Then you can go do that thing I said a few minutes ago.

Photo credit: Himgspendra (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

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