You damn kids

Today, March 22, is International Reflections on Mortality Day, which naturally is the day we ponder our imminent demises and get all somber and maudlin for a bit – you’ll probably notice this going on around you if you look. It’s also the day where we consider what a shitass design “aging” actually is.

One curious trait that I’ve been noticing has been, apparently, that hair considers the nose and ears to be Florida, at least for males. As retirement nears, it ends up moving down there from the northern climes. Unfortunately, there the analogy ends, because instead of remaining sequestered in small enclosed communities and then dying out, keeping the population more-or-less stable, it seems to thrive and overrun, and the amount of maintenance that I now have to devote to areas that are by nature hard to groom has exploded, introducing a new anxiety that I have forgotten to police them for too long and some erratic questing tendril of oldman-vine will be waving impudently at anyone that I may encounter that day. And yes, I actually have one of those little specialty groomers (no, not The Girlfriend, I’m talking about a little electric trimmer you jackass,) but they’re haphazard at best, and I usually accomplish more with forceps. However, I was soon to discover that, as minor as it seems, plucking nose hairs can be amazingly painful. Don’t ask me what this is all about, but that kind of eye-watering pain should mean you’re supposed to leave them alone, which implies that there’s some purpose therein. Yes, I know they serve as a filter for some airborne gook, but as someone that suffers from fierce allergies, they don’t do shit in that regard, and anyway I can’t imagine that a tentacle that curls out of the nose and starts getting into your eye is fulfilling that role. At least the mustache can serve to camouflage them occasionally when I have neglected my routine mowing.

By the way, if the nose and ears are Florida, then my shoulders are, like, the Caribbean Islands for the really successful follicles, since they have sprouted a select few hardy specimens. Listen, all my life my hair has been brown, straight, and relatively soft, so the emergence of jet black, wiry, and twisty-curly individuals makes me wonder what latent genes are at work. Seriously, I have to make sure I wear a shirt around heavy machinery, lest they get ensnared in a mechanism and I’m dragged to my death by these Mediterranean monstrosities.

For decades, I never had to give any thought at all to my eyebrows – just about the only part of my body that required no maintenance, you know? Until a few years ago, when the mutations began. Now, routinely, there are four or five Olympic hopefuls that extend well beyond the rules of decorum and do this kudzu thing; occasionally they get caught in the breeze from open car windows and I think something’s about to crash into my face from the side. I’m afraid to pluck them, because I have this suspicion that the follicles would cease production, and I’ll end up with chemo-patient eyebrows. Let me tell you something: I am not resorting to eyebrow pencils, so if it ever gets to that point I’m simply having eyebrows tattooed in place. Right now it’s just an additional charge at the barber…

We can’t forget the ghost hairs: less than a third the diameter of regular hair and completely transparent, they hatch from entirely random locations and grow several centimeters in length (I am not exaggerating) and are generally only found when they interfere with something else – again, the ones emerging from the space between my eyebrows and eyelids are the most noticeable, especially when the sun catches them. Spiderman had to make mechanical web-spinners, but mine are all natural, if rather slow and placed in awkward locations. Give it time.

At least guys can get away with greying without difficulty, and can sport a head of perfectly white hair and still be considered handsome – not me, mind you, but Danson-like people. The best I can say is that I’ve gotten no worse in appearance, in that regard, and occasionally people treat me like I actually know what I’m talking about, which is cool. A little tip: a neatly-trimmed beard is the difference between being “wise” and being “homeless.”

But you didn’t come here to hear me talk about my rainforest – or maybe you did and I’ve been selling this thing all wrong for ten years. We’ll assume the former and move on.

I have reached that age where I have to face the idea that there are things I’m not going to do anymore. I mean, besides mixing Tang in milk. I occasionally see someone doing elaborate bicycle stunts and think that, if I practiced, I could handle that, before recognizing that such days are past now – there remains a part of my youth that used to bike around a lot, jumping ditches and diving down really steep hills, and it beckons to me from what seems to be the recent past, and then I remember that this was when Ford was president. I’d also taken judo when I was younger and, truth be told, could pull off a wickedly smooth diving forward roll, regaining my feet in one fluid motion, and I still have to tell myself that this would be a bad thing to attempt now. Unless there were a lot of people around to impress.

“Fluid” is certainly not the word that’s going to spring to mind, either – I suspect it would be more like the rattle of musketry. I can hear the bystanders asking, “Did he just land on a bunch of maracas?”

Naturally I withstand, with remarkable and certainly-not-age-related good humor, various taunts about my advanced years from certain students who shall remain nameless, the same students who repeatedly forget to follow certain key bits of advice and cannot maintain a simple posting schedule. As much as I rag on smutphones, I grudgingly recognize the value of electronic reminders and storage, and the bare fact that we don’t have to remember everything, or indeed anything; we can simply record it onto the devices in our pockets. Back in my day, of course (my day being May 10, 1982 – most people missed it,) we had to use wall calendars or little frayed paper notebooks. So yeah, it’s much easier now, and we don’t even have to look at the entries to be reminded of them. Thus it’s appalling to me how few people can actually take advantage of this, but that’s probably the lumbago talking.

But, BUT, it’s one thing to rag on “kids these days,” even though we should pretty much expect all of that. The really frustrating, annoying, kick-you-in-the-teeth bit is seeing people who are much older than you are and doing much more – mountain climbing and singing lead and swimming the English Channel and all that. That’s just being sadistic, when I have to walk gingerly for the first few minutes after I wake up until all the bones in my feet find their proper alignment. I suppose I should feel proud of them, and motivated and all that jazz, but all I can find myself doing is screaming, “Act your age!” at the screen. Fucking spry geezers.

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