To prevent shed hair from tainting classmates, the Sisters of No Mercy ordered all cootie-boys to wear a tight skullcap from the earlobes up. The Stigma Cap was made by cutting a foot-long segment from the thigh-end of a woman's nylon stocking.
The narrow end was tied in a knot that flopped atop the fool's head, with the wide end pulled low over the ears.
Nylons being sheer, kids behind me had a daylong view of my widening bald spots. The nuns could've eased trauma by allowing me to wear a ski cap, bandana, or sombrero. Alas, the flock might misread that as acceptable alternatives to the school's dress code.
I saw only one other boy (Steve Romburg) wearing that god-awful Stigma Cap. Parents of the other cootie-boys helped them avoid trauma via home-tutoring. No money for tutors in my family, and missing weeks of school might mean repeating a grade, so I attended even though the cap was a magnet for ridicule.
I was told to wear the stigma till all hair was gone and new stubble sprouted. Hair grows from the roots out, so there was a period during which my noggin was light-bulb smooth. That's when, during a noon recess, I got into a shoving match with a boy who pinned me down then swiped the cap off my moonscape head.
What he saw caused him to leap off me with such force that he staggered back and fell on his ass. God's cursed me with a big gourd, scarecrow physique and Irish-white skin, so when hairless at age eight I looked like E.T.
By then my psyche had switched to Major-Trauma, Indelible-Image Mode (such as the day JFK was shot). All details are still vivid.
My antagonist wasn't a bad kid so I suspect an alpha male had goaded him into baring my chrome dome. They wanted a show, so I was the day's attraction.
While getting to my feet I became aware that the schoolyard of heretofore noisy kids-at-recess had become tomb-quiet. It was like the final scene in Hitchcock's "The Birds," when the film's victims gingerly exit their besieged house to behold thousands of hostile birds silently eyeing them from trees, wires, fences, rooftops.
So it was that I arose from the schoolyard's dust, encircled by slack jaws, arched eyebrows, and saucer eyes that choired the same hymn: "Glad I ain't you!" No one laughed, spoke, or approached.