I’ve aged, I admit it. However, I like to believe I’ve aged with some degree of style and grace.
For years I threatened that when I left the Navy I would let my hair grow long (if I still had hair) and regrow my beard. I told my family that I’d let it grow long enough to have a pony tail. The kids thought it funny; my wife merely rolled her eyes.
As luck would have it, while still in the Navy I needed surgery on my right shoulder, requiring that my arm be in a sling for over month. Being right handed, this made shaving difficult, so I got a head start on my beard.
It was awful.
You know how they talk about the division between greybeards and young Turks? It was obvious that I wouldn’t pass as a very experienced middle aged Turk, although if I did let my hair and beard grow I could get a gig playing Santa Claus. Bummer, man.
Shortly thereafter my wife talked me into shaving the moustache I’d had for years. It had been a pathetic moustache until my thirties, but then done basically okay. I hadn’t seen my upper lip in almost 40 years. Once removed, I started getting comments on how much younger I looked.
Alas, the last vestiges of being a child of the 60’s were now swept away.
Which, of course, got me thinking about how we deal with age.
I saw a man at Wal-Mart today with the “pants-on-the-ground” look. He had to be pushing 50.
At what age do people need to say:
“I guess I’d better pull my pants up around my waist.”
“Time to get rid of the mullet.”
“Maybe short skirts are no longer my thing.”
“Maybe the sliderule and the plastic pocket protector are too much.”
Of course there are some guys who look as good with long grey hair as they did with long brown hair. They tend to be the guys who still make their living with a guitar – go figure. There are some women who make the cover of magazines wearing a bikini at age 50, too. Some people were just born cool, but alas I was not one of these.
So the long hair, the beard, the bell bottom jeans and the tie dyed shirts and, yes, even the leisure suits (thank heaven) are all relegated to memory. No longer will I long to return to those. However, the advantage of having a few years under my belt is that I know it no longer takes these things to be young and alive on the inside.