Ear hair is just one of the things I hate about being 50.
The first time Dedee saw a hair sticking out of my ear she couldn’t stop laughing for 8 minutes. I timed it.
She twirled it with her finger. She groomed it with her curling iron. She begged — and I mean begged — to pluck it.
The worse part? This happened in my 40s.
I’m nearing 51 now and clumps of hair grow in my ears like prairie grass.
Lately I’ve been contemplating the pros and the woes of being a half-century old.
I’ll start with what I don’t like because, you know, I’m a curmudgeon now.
The Woes of Turning 50
The Capricious Nature of Hair
Men in their 50s don’t actually lose hair. It just relocates. It may leave our head, but it ends up on our neck, back, knuckles, toes, and inside our ears and nose.
I’m proud to say that I still have a full head of hair. But dear Lord, what happened to the hair on my legs?
I’ll tell you what happened…it moved to my eyebrows.
When I was 30, I didn’t really understand the expression “wild hair.” I do now. Boy howdy. Wild hairs sprout in unexpected places and always point in the wrong direction.
Every time the lady cuts my hair, I hear her say, “Whoa…let me get those eyebrows. Wow.”
And the new hairs are coarse. When her clippers make contact with them it sounds like a 5-inch tree trunk going through a 3-inch wood-chipper. It takes a good 12 minutes to finish the job because the blades get dull and she has to break out the Black & Decker construction-grade clippers with the titanium blades.
Young folks might think these minor physiological changes are inconsequential. They’re not. Having eyebrows like Leonid Brezhnev can be quite dangerous. I nearly lost an eye one time when Molly the Cat swiped at one of my eyebrow hairs because she thought it was a piece of yarn.
The ever-so-thoughtful Mrs. Lhamon came to my rescue, offering to tie the strands into a French braid, “You know…to protect your eyes from the cats.”
Again, I refused.
Aberrant nose hair also makes an appearance these days. But I’ve already written about that here.
Bottom line…give yourself plenty of time for grooming.
The Evaporation of Sleep
Kids think monsters live under their beds. They don’t. They live under my bed.
As soon as I drift off, gremlins appear and level a bevy of Tae Bo kicks to my neck and back. Rugby players don’t get beat up this badly.
After herniating a few of my discs, the demons decide it’d be fun to give me a charley horse.
Now, those of you in your 20s or 30s think you get leg cramps. Trust me, you haven’t a clue. But you will. In time.
One time I got a charley horse so severe that my toes touched my heel. I’m not kidding. It looked like I had monkey feet. It took a 3/4 ton come-along with alloy chains to pry my leg back to the normal angle. But as soon as I released the brake, my foot snapped back to a toe-point so rigid that Baryshnikov in his prime would’ve been jealous.
Of course, all this abuse wakes me up. Which is fine because it gives me the opportunity to empty my bladder for the 7th time that night.
Kids Respecting Me as Their “Elder”
Some might think this should fall under the pros of turning 50.
Not by a long-shot.
See, I don’t feel 50. I’m mentally sharp. Reasonably in good shape…sort of. I don’t have many wrinkles. I don’t need to wear sensible shoes most days. I still feel like a 36 year old…a 36 year old with coarse, bushy eyebrows, but still.
Nevertheless, that’s not how I am perceived.
Last week, I ran through the Sonic Drive-In to get a Diet Coke. It was a beautiful autumn day. Windows were down and Panama was on the radio. It’s a good song and I needed that extra something to push it over the cliff. So I cranked it up to 11.
A young kid walked my drink to the car.
“Hey, you’re jamming’!” he said, looking somewhat surprised.
I smiled. “Well, it’s never too early for a little Van Halen.”
At this point, I’m feeling rather hip. I handed him a generous tip and said, “Keep the change.”
“Thank you! Keep rockin’, sir.”
Sir? Did he just call me “sir?!?”
I felt like wrestling him to the ground to get my tip back.
Listen, I know I’m old enough to be the kid’s father. Truth be told, I’m old enough to be his grandfather, but it would’ve been scandalous in our small town.
And I know the twerp wasn’t even born when Van Halen released their album, 1984. I was a junior in college at the time. Great tour, by the way.
So, it might seem appropriate — respectful, even — for him to address me like that. But I didn’t like it.
That’s when 50 smacked me between the eyes. There I was taking offense that a 20-something youngster was showing a little respect to his elders.
And the fact that I just used the word “youngster” sorta seals the deal, doesn’t it?
Excellent Pop Culture References Being Lost on the Young
You know what else makes me feel old? Knowing how few of you know who Baryshnikov is.
Or Tae Bo.
But mostly because so painfully few of you got the reference about cranking the volume to 11.
One Final Thought
Having lived as a 50 year old for 9 months now, I have discovered some unexpected benefits too.
But those will have to wait for another post. I’ve gotta run.
Matlock starts in five.