Wig Spotting - an exciting hobby to keep you awake during meetings
When to play: Any time you're bored and there are several middle-aged men in the room. Equipment required: Functioning eyesight, and a mischievous sense of curiosity. Number of players: Usually one, but team play is possible if you're able to pass notes under the table or can gesture surreptitiously with a wink.
How to play: Stare at the head of a middle-aged man who appears to have a full head of hair. Allow an element of doubt to creep into your thoughts. Could that hair possibly be in some way artificial? Are those tresses potentially man-made? Has this man slapped on a toupee and is hoping desperately that nobody will notice? Don't let familiarity cloud your thoughts. Even if you've seen this man every day of your working life, start to question his luxurious hirsuteness. Is that hair for real, or is there a secret bald patch underneath? Answer "yes", "no", or "ooh, maybe".
Scoring: Score 25 points if you spot tentative evidence of wig-wearing. Score 50 points if you spot genuine signals of shame-headedness. Score 100 points if you spot conclusive proof of toupee-topping.
Hints and tips: There are many tell-tale signs to watch for. Combine two or more for a convincing diagnosis of artificiality.
» Do the sideburns float a few millimetres above the skin? » Is the hair thicker than it should be above the nape of the neck, as if there are two layers here? » Is there a genuine bald patch around the crown, however slight, or is the hair here unnaturally perfect? » Does this person ever turn up on a Monday morning having had a haircut, or does their style never ever grow? » Can you see a single hair growing out of the skin, anywhere, or does it all emerge from some unseen foundation? » Does the hair not so much hang as perch? » Is there a fringe at the front, and at the side, and at the back? » Can you see a distinct layered dividing line (for example round the rear of the head from one temple to the other) where the colour or texture of the hair changes? » Is the lower part of the hair speckled with grey, while the top is suspiciously youthful. » During the winter months, have you ever seen this person wearing a close-fitting woolly hat? Or do they never dare? » Does the hair dribble limply over the top of the ear, as if propped up by it, in a way that no natural fibre ever would? » Stare across the room at a proudly balding man. You know the sort. Thinning on top, the occasional hair erupting from rosy scalp, a waterfall of lank tresses around the crown. Now look back at the man you suspect of wearing a wig. See how unnatural his 'hair' looks compared to reality. QED.
Ending the game: It's unlikely that you'll be able to conclude this game during a single meeting. It may require several opportunities to give a suspicious head the due scrutiny required, and even then the prospective wig may remain little more than a very strong hunch. What you need, for a slamdunk finish, is sudden definitive proof. Perhaps the accidental slippage of the entire toupee following a particularly unwise scratch of the head. Perhaps a two inch backward shift due to excess perspiration underneath on a very hot day. Perhaps a flapping sideburn during a sudden gust from the air conditioning unit. If you're really lucky then your suspect might even turn up to work one day bald and proud, having seen the error of their delusional ways and cast their fake hairpiece aside. Or you could just ask. Go on, I dare you.