March 17, 2009
When I was kid, every week at least one of the bajillion tabloids in the grocery store had a “werewolf” on the cover. These shocking! stories! featured up-close photo spreads of purported half-men/half-beasts whose faces and bodies were covered completely in thick, bushy, curly hair. Scary hair. And there was always an accompanying headline that said something like WEREWOLF BOY VOTED MAYOR OF MEXICAN VILLAGE or APE MAN MARRIES HUMAN LADY IN MONSTER CEREMONY. They frightened me, those pictures, so much so that I regularly convinced my parents to buy those tabloids so I could read about the werewolf people myself and stare at their pictures until I was scared shitless.
We all know that tabloids are mostly full of shit, but occasionally the things they cover are real, and one of those things is the aforementioned pictorials (the accompanying headlines, not so much). Those men, children (and rarely, women) cover models suffered from hypertrichosis (better known as – wait for it – Werewolf Syndrome), a condition that affects (barely) one out of every 350 million people. These (almost always Mexican, for some reason) hirsute “monsters,” it turns out, were just normal people with a rare condition that made them super hairy tabloid targets.
And targets of a lot more, actually. I expect that a year of living under a carpet of hair could get lonely and annoying. People would stare at you and whisper as you walked past or be totally freaked out by you or surreptitiously snap your photo and then pretend they hadn’t when you caught them. Extra and Ripley’s Believe it or Not and The Weekly World News would call you over and over again until you agreed to be their Featured Freak. And yet, truth be told, I’d still absolutely do this dare. While actual hypertrichosis sufferers are hairy for life (there’s no cure and the hair grows back if removed – unless you undergo electrolysis, which is a super painful process and only successful part of the time), this dare only lasts a year. Plus, 12 consecutive months of that kind of treatment is probably character building (you shallow asshole). I’m pretty sure you’d emerge a better person, relatively hairless and totally rich.
So, yes. Count me in.
I have such fond childhood memories of staring at the News of the World’s headlines as I waited in line at the grocery store with my parents. (They provided a much higher entertainment value than my other main check-out pastime: wondering what kind of Dum-Dum lollipop the cashier was going to give me and fervently hoping that it wouldn’t be butterscotch). Sadly, staring was all I could do as my mother firmly refused to buy “that trash” for me. Eventually I bought a few copies using allowance money when I was old enough to bike to the drugstore unaccompanied, but for a large part of my youth the exotic mysteries of things like Batboy and the Fatima prophecies – and yes, wolfpeople – were denied to me.
Now, as Kali points out, agreeing to become the kind of freak that is frequently featured in such tabloids would be difficult. To say the least. I think that stares and whispers would be the least of it, and that you’d be subject to a level of taunting and cruelty that would turn you into a cowering shut-in. Even though your term of hairy bondage would be up after a year, I’m guessing that it would be a pretty rough 12 months, and frankly, I’m not sure if I could handle it.