I was meeting Carolyn at our favorite local Mexican restaurant – El Rods – in Blacksburg. She had arrived before me, so I had parked and was just making my way across the parking lot when a guy in a baseball cap approached me.
“Hey there! You should go to Northstar!” he exclaimed with exuberance.
I was suddenly taken aback. I had never seen the guy before. I guessed he was in his late 30s. He was a little dirty and had come from the vicinity of an air conditioning service van parked in the lot, so I surmised that he was servicing the AC in a local business.
I assumed that he was talking about the church I pastor, Northstar Church. But I’d never met him. I was confused, but yet, I sensed a story. My mind was racing about how our church had impacted his life so greatly that he was inviting people to it in a parking lot.
That’s when I was let down.
“Northstar will take care of that bald spot of yours,” he then said.
I can’t tell you all the things that raced through my mind. First was the realization that our church wasn’t what he was referring to. Second was the biblical story of Elisha who called down bears out of the woods to assault teenagers who called him “baldhead.” (2 Kings 2.23) My last thought was “how do these things happen to me?”
By now, he’d entered “my space,” and he proceeded to gush about how he had begun to grow hair back after only five days of taking a pill from Northstar Nutritional. He must have seen my skepticism (and disappointment), because he swept his ball cap from his head to reveal a shiny bald pate, rimmed with hair around the sides and back.
“Look!” he said excitedly.
As I nervously looked closer (how close is too close to gaze at a man’s bald head in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant), I did see little wisps of hair on his bald spot.
“Yeahhhh,” I affirmed. He wasn’t going to be doing any combing any time fast, but the wisps were nice. And it had only been five days.
I didn’t see an easy way out of the conversation, so I transitioned to attempt to explain my confused look at his approach.
“I thought you were talking about my church. I’m a pastor in town at Northstar Church. When you said Northstar…”
I wasn’t able to finish. He grabbed my hand and begun pumping it up and down excitedly.
“Well, it’s so nice to meet ya! I preach the gospel every day! On the CB radio!” he declared with bright eyes.
“Oh, that’s great,” I said. My imagination was just running wild. How do you do that? “Breaker 1-9, Jesus saves!”?
He had not let go of my hand, and at this point, he pulled me into his body and wrapped me up in a bear hug, patting my back and blessing me. Literally, “God bless ya! God bless ya!”
I felt very blessed… still slightly bald, but very blessed. But I was also hungry, and Carolyn was waiting on me. I began to tell him bye, and he reminded to look up Northstar Nutritional. I assured him I would, but mainly to escape before he showed me anywhere else he might be growing hair.
I strode into El Rods with a smirk on my face. Carolyn was sitting in the back left, next to the kitchen door. I was thinking of how the strangest things always happen to me, and that this story is not believable.
As I told her, she laughed, but I could tell she didn’t laugh hard enough. I think it was the element of doubt. I do like to exaggerate a good story. But I’d told her this one straight up.
We’d had our chip basket refilled once and were talking about other things when I heard…
“Hey. Hey. Hey.”
I couldn’t believe it. My hair buddy was standing look over the side of our booth from the aisle next to us. He was grinning and stretching a piece of paper over the booth wall, urging me to take it. I glanced at Carolyn. Her eyes were wide. I thought quickly, “Validation.”
I took his proffered paper and read what was scrawled on it:
Growing hair after five days – been bald 30 years.”
It was like a prescription you’d receive from the doctor, but this was scrawled across the back of notebook paper that looked like it had been folded up in someone’s pants.
“Uhhhh, thanks,” I said.
“God bless ya!” he blessed as he left.
I looked at Carolyn. She looked at me. We were both in disbelief. What do you do with a prescription for hair growth that you receive over chips and salsa?
We continued our meal. It wasn’t too long before I clenched up as I heard, “Hey. Hey. Hey.” The bald evangelist was back.
We turned to look at him.
“You got anyone with cancer in your church?” he asked out of the blue.
I glanced at Carolyn (who has fought cancer 6 times and won). I had no idea how to answer this question. I’m sure we had family’s who had were impacted by cancer. I just couldn’t’ think straight. I just wanted to eat my chicken soup. That was when Carolyn offered:
“Not at this time.”
“Uh, not at this time,” I repeated/interpreted for the bald evangelist.
“Well, if you do, tell them to go to this website (and I’ve forgotten what it was). It’s run by Christians. They will take care of you,” he said.
“Thank you,” I said weakly.
And he left again.
Now Carolyn and I were left with the unsettled feeling of how to finish our meal and leave graciously before another encounter with this man. In the back of my mind, I was also beginning to wonder how much the miracle pills were. And if they worked…
That was when we heard – you guessed it:
“Hey. Hey. Hey.”
This time, he’d appeared out of the kitchen door behind Carolyn. I hesitantly looked up at him to discover he wasn’t looking at or talking to me. He was talking to someone at the table to my direct right. I had to turn my head all the way to see who it was. When he finally came into sight, I smiled contentedly. He was completely bald. A potential convert for the bald evangelist.
We used that moment to make our exit hastily. I thought about offering the written prescription to this guy, but Carolyn thought it could be voodoo, so I didn’t. After we left, Carolyn took the paper with her, put salt and chicken fat on it and burned it. She thought that’s how you break voodoo bald prescription curses.
I spent the afternoon Googling Northstar Nutritional and found this. It was real! I have yet to order any. I want to see if the Bald Evangelist becomes hairy.
I told the story at our weekly church small group gathering that evening. A few days later, I got a text from one of the guys there:
“Northstar health guy is at Kroger in Christiansburg as we speak haha. I heard him telling a lady about it and I don’t think she was overjoyed at being called bald.”
Does this stuff really work? Who is this mysterious bald evangelist? Where will he turn up next? For now, he is hair today, gone tomorrow…