Sunday, January 22, 2012


At what point in life do we automatically become walking pharmaceutical reference manuals? This seems to sneak up on you. One day, someone makes a comment about their dose of Lipitor, and you actually know what they are talking about. Not only do you know what it’s for, you wonder if it’s something that should be in your morning arsenal of tablets and capsules.

I never noticed my parents doing this when they were my age, but then again, I would have been ten, and who cares at that age about what weird things your parents discuss. There are some things you just do not want to know about, and while the contents of the medicine cabinet might not be at the top of the list, it’s definitely in the top ten.

To be fair, part of our ‘knowledge’, and I use that term loosely, comes from television ads and full-page spreads in golf and travel magazines. We are inundated with people telling us all day long what pills we should be asking our doctor about. The fun thing about that here, though, is that where medications that require a prescription are concerned, the drug companies can advertise, but they cannot use the name of the product and the condition it’s for in the same ad. We get to see the man skipping down the street, and the Viagra logo at the end of the twenty-second bit, but we cannot know what it’s for. All we know is we have to ask our doctor for it because it will make our lives so much better... despite the side effects of liver disease, kidney disease, loss of vision, incontinence, confusion, high blood pressure, body parts falling off, stroke, heart attack and death. Not to worry, though – they have pills for all those things too. Soon we will be like the Jetsons, and just pop a giant pill every morning and that will give us our medical and nutritional requirements for the day.

But when does it happen to us? One day, we find ourselves sitting around the card table, sipping decaf because it’s after 11am, discussing drug names like we used to discuss rock bands or movie stars. Now we can’t remember the stars or what they did (and who watches movies anymore? They come on way too late), and the rock bands are just too damned loud, what with all that bass thumping in your ears. Yes, we’re boomers, and Viagra has become the new Rolling Stones in our world – definitely not a change for the better.

By means of protest, therefore, I propose that we toss caution to the wind. Let’s drink the good coffee, watch the movie and sing We’re Not Going To Take It as loud as we can every time one of those commercials comes on. We can do… the coffee will help.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I didn’t shave today. I could have. I probably should have – if I was younger, but I didn’t. I stood in the shower, considered the Alberta field stubble on my calves and said ‘No! I will not!’

I can hear you already, asking ‘But… Why??’ in that whiny ‘but why’ voice. The answer is simple. I am revolting! I am protesting first the fact that I live in what is supposed to be the warmest part of the country, but which is, in fact, experiencing AGAIN temperatures that are on the south side of -20. The joke here is that we pay a ‘Sunshine Tax’ for the privilege of living here, in the land of milk and honey, where the sun always shines. Well, where is the freaking sunshine today? I realize the sunshine tax yet your still in Canada thing is a bit delusional on our part, something that could be blamed on hypothermic hallucinations or permafrost of the brain, but come on! We do have a desert just 90 minutes from here, a little desert, the only one in Canada, but we all know what deserts are like at night. Imagine an icy desert night, then multiply it by the number of days that it does not get a chance to warm up in these frigid temperatures, and you have the makings of a new horror movie setting – sorta like my legs are right now.

The second protest is about the need for women to shave. Sorry, but as I age, warmth becomes a very precious commodity. Hair works for dogs and cats and musk ox (no, my legs are not quite that bad… yet), so why not for me? I think we should embrace the hair, wear it proudly (okay… maybe not in the armpits, because they are always the last place to get cold). I am even considering fertilizer for my legs, encouraging the hair to grow just to fight off the damned cold. Who is gonna know anyways? We hear heavy socks, high boots, long underwear, snowsuits… our legs are not gonna see the light of day for at least a couple months. If, by chance though, I find myself soaking up some rays in Maui or Malibu, I will perhaps take pity on those around me, and get out the weed whacker -- that’s what it will take by that time – but only if I know the temperatures will be warmer here when I get back home.

Friday, January 13, 2012


No, I am not talking Christmas. I am not talking shoes, furniture, car seats or gloves. I am talking… skin; old skin, tired skin, skin that is definitely not like the skin I saw on the clerk at the store today. You know; the twenty-year-old goddess with the long flowing hair, perky boobs and immaculate, tight skin? Yeah, that’s her.

There is a huge industry designed to keep our skin looking like hers. I know, because I’ve tried a bottle of just about every one of them. I have used cucumber peels, apricot pit scrubs, moisturizers, creams, lotions, you name it, and yet, when I look in the mirror, it still crinkles at the eyes and wrinkles around the edges. So far, we’re just talking about the face. It doesn’t get any better as you move down.

Have you ever noticed how your skin starts to look like crepe paper? I have no idea why. You do everything the commercials tell you to do, yet you still end up with basset hound skin – skin you can pick up by the handful, let go and watch cascade back down. Your shins have ostrich skin, your ankles have that turtle-leg texture, your heels become the moisture-starved cracked clay dry-season African river bed, and don’t even mention the knees.

That said, you take some time to consider the skin. It is the largest organ of the human body. It protects everything inside, holding off the wind, warming us on a sunny day, feeding us vitamin D from the sun. It sweats, gets bruised, cut and mutilated on a daily basis. We cover it, rip hair from it, rub back our goosebumps, and, when we were younger, we panicked over it, examining daily for that sadistic Friday morning zit with the massive red circle and perverted sense of humor. Throughout its lifetime, our skin deals with every possible element, all the time fighting the valiant battle against womanhood’s arch enemy, gravity.

So, there is nothing else we can do. Pour a glass of wine and toast your skin, wrinkles and all. Wear those blemishes with pride. They are a badge of honor for all of us, testament of a life lived. Besides, unless you are independently wealthy or can find a myopic sugar-daddy who will pay some surgeon to get out the can opener to crank that stuff back to where it belongs (adding a bit of starch to the cleavage at the same time), you just have to accept what Mother Nature has in store for your skin. You can definitely curse her, but I don’t think she listens.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oh, My Bags Are Packed...

…And they’re sitting there, right under my eyeballs, sadistic black circles that make me look like I walked into the wall while holding up a pair of binoculars. In my younger days, I popped contact lenses in every morning, put on make-up and never thought about the portmanteaus under the peepers. It was devastating when I had to wear glasses on a regular basis, so not that long ago, in another of those ‘what was I thinking’ moments, I tried contacts again. I poked them into my eyeballs and stared, horrified at what stared back at me. This started my adventure.

To be fair, florescent lights are never flattering, but still, the sight was earth-shattering. Considering myself to be a logical, reasonable adult though, I did what every other logical, reasonable adult would do. Somewhere I had read what ‘the stars’ do about this. Depends must be overflowing at the thought of how, based on a stupid article, someone would go running out to buy this magical potion that instantly cures black eyes. The article’s author giggles uncontrollably at the notion of women nonchalantly purchasing tubes of hemorrhoid cream. I walked with a strong stride into the store, that alone announcing to the world that I wasn’t the one with little bunches of grapes hanging from my bottom. For insurance I added loudly ‘I have to get this home right away for my poor dear husband. He’s in such pain’ then smiled my angelic smile just to make sure everyone knew it was not for me. I got home, ran into the bathroom, and started to smear the stuff on my face, knowing within seconds the black circles would be gone. No more glasses for me!

The problem with these creams, and there is no way to be delicate here, is that they are designed to stick where gravity insists nothing should stick unless it is practically glued in place. I dabbed it under my eyes, tried to rub it into the skin, cursing as my skin wrinkled and ran away. Who could blame it? So, with my other hand up there to hold the skin tight, I tried again. Being cheated on the coordination gene, both fingers end up covered with the pasty glue. That was when the doorbell rang. No one wants to shake your hands when you have Preparation H on your fingertips, and seeing it on your face does nothing to cement social interactions, although it can, and does cement your eyelids when you get it too close to the lashes. It does, though, leave the black circles intact. Thank God for glasses. They hide the black bags.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Okay, ladies, hands up if you remember the first time you had to ‘feel’ what you were shaving, rather than see it. You know what I mean, that day in the shower when you were doing your normal toilette and were sure that you had just taken care of every hair on your leg, but then realized that without your glasses on, and in the shower, with that really poor lighting that exists in every shower, that you didn’t see the damned hairs there before you started either. Next thing you know, you are running your hand across the leg, checking for stubble, hoping that despite the calluses on your fingers, they will not lie to you about something as obnoxious as a stubborn leg hair.

Of course, this is inevitably followed by, the minute you get out of the shower, the placement of glasses on nose to inspect the work, which is followed by the required curses indicating that of course you missed that great swath of grossness across your calf. Of course, this is no reason to go back to using your Epilady, that apex of the self-mutilating torturous hair care products some asshole told us would change our lives (they did... they made us want to pin down the sucker and remove every inch of his hair with the damned thing). It still, though, is an issue that required addressing.

There is no cure for this problem. We can’t hold our legs out further, like we might a newspaper. We can’t adjust the angle they are attached to us, and we can’t just sprinkle Majik Hair Remover on them that will solve the problem for eternity. We could get electrolysis, or go for waxing, because who doesn’t look forward to hot wax being dumped on your skin for the sole purpose of ripping out all the hair by its roots? We could ask our significant other to help with the razor, which might create some fun extracurricular activities, but it certainly is not the most expeditious way to deal with the problem when you’re in a hurry. (Not to mention, his eyes could well be as crappy as your own for this sort of detail.)

All of this, though, begs one stunningly simple question that could well be the answer to the problem. If you can’t see the hair on your legs, and your significant other can’t see the hair on your legs (without adjusting his glasses and pulling out a spot light), perhaps there is no hair there to worry about? It could be easy to convince ourselves that yes, it did in fact miraculously vanish, and other than for a quick blind touch-up every couple of weeks, you’re fine. No worries! Even if you are fooling yourself, though, take heart in this one simple fact: even Magilla Gorilla gets lucky once in a while.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bite Me!

‘Well, there I was yesterday in the grocery store. Now, because I am such a hip and with-it senior, I usually pay with my credit card with it's magic chip. However, I was not getting much and decided to use cash. I instantly became the dreaded senior that used to be in front of me (that we all experienced and all hated and all rolled our eyes at) counting out the exact change. It never even dawned on me that I had graduated to the ranks of the penny pincher until hours later.’

I found this in my email, sent to me by Ethel. The image it created in my mind made me both shudder and laugh hysterically. It also, however, made me realize something else; something not freaking funny at all. Think about it… who else fiddles with coins at the tills?

I remember watching the grubs walk into the store with their piggy banks, hoping to cash in their coins for paper money. After much eye-rolling, the clerk finally agreed and dumped the change into a machine that sorted and counted it. I was more than a bit annoyed, because I assumed she was going to have to sort and count the stuff, and it was the time commitment she was a bit pissy about. Nevertheless, the kids had their money, and knew the beauty of digging change out of a pocket to pay. For something important, handfuls of coins would be dropped into the clerk’s hand – for that, she did have to count and help them find the right amount, the line of shoppers behind clearly not impressed.

(Don’t you just love when you have a huffer behind you in those circumstances? You know, the one who shifts feet like she is standing on hot coals, and huffs a huge sigh every twenty seconds just to make sure you know she is waiting, and her time is precious. I used to linger when there was a known huffer behind me. Now, though, they scare me. They can run faster than I can, and god only knows what damage I would do… to myself… if I tried to kick someone’s ass.

Lately it feels like, as we grow older, we become more childlike. Maybe that’s a good thing, but I still am not convinced it is. We start to need help more often, relying on our kids to reach what we can’t, or carry what’s now too heavy. I think it starts with the ‘oh, can you remind me...’ thing then slowly washes over our entire life, until our children are cutting our meat for us, helping us to the bathroom and tucking us in at night. I’m not really so sure I want to be having the grubs cutting my food for me; they might try to slip something in there, like spinach or broccoli, payback for the things we tried to sneak past them. When we did it, we simply wanted to keep them healthy. When they do it, it will be because it makes them laugh to see our dentures get stuck in something crunchy and not boiled into mush. This is not something I am looking forward to.

Yes, I suppose I could step up the care I take of my body now. In some regards, it might just be a tad too late. But either way, that day is coming. For now, though, I think the next time I have a huffer behind me, I might just take out my dentures, hand them to her, and say 'Bite Me'.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Yup, I am, and to be honest, I’m fine with that.

Someone mentioned the other day about going for a drink after work on Friday. I tried to think of how many years it’s been since I did that. I ran out of fingers and toes for counting. You see, now to go out on Friday, I have to check the bank account, check the television schedule, factor in time for the news, think about what I would wear, and how we would get there and how we would get home and if I could have a glass of wine. I don't want to drive impaired, but more to the point, I have to guard against that damned heartburn as well. The thing is, I am not so sure I even want to go for that drink after work on Fridays.

Back then, the drinks started about 4pm, when work would wind down. Sometimes it meant beer brought into the office, other times it meant we went to the beer. Either way, it resulted one table being pulled over, then another, then another as more of us arrived. It required jugs of beer then some appies at the peanut bar, and about four hours later we would decide we need to get something to eat so we would stumble down the street to one of the four restaurants in town. From there, we would jump in our cars and head across the tracks to the Sundance, the only place in town with a dance floor and music (and no, it was not disco music, but they did have the crazy color-changing psychedelic lights all over the place). It was always a late night, always a costly night, but it was fun, and I never regretted doing it… okay, Saturday mornings sort of sucked, but what the hell. Some aspirin and the hair of the dog, and you were set.

Then kids arrived. Kids meant paying for babysitters, and kids meant you did not want to wake up with a hangover. You had to make sure they were fed dinner too, so no more running amok, at least not every Friday night. You couldn’t drive everyone from one place to the next without taking out car seats and inevitably when you were just sitting down to eat on those rare nights you did go out, the waitress would say there was a call; one of the kids is puking or bleeding or something that required an early end to the day… but we still tried, and we persevered. It just meant that those nights out were more special when they happened.

Now the kids aren’t an issue. Grandkids aren’t an issue either – yet. Drinking and driving is an issue, cost is an issue, roads in winter are an issue… but mostly, we like being home. Here comes the boring part: the days are comfortable with the coffee maker brewing good morning, and Jon Stewart saying good night. The news is required, and watching the newest episode of Decoded or Harry’s Law takes precedence over drinks with the guys. It’s a treat to order in pizza, and I don’t have to put on good clothes or touch up my face to do it. Touching up one’s face at this age is not something that you just run in and do in a minute anymore, so now the factors and the effort has to be weighed against the quality of the meal and how late in the evening it is.

My parents, when they did this, were fuddy-duddies and bores, a real yawn-fest. It’s not that anymore though; now it’s just comfortable, and I don’t apologize for it one bit. In fact, I treasure it.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I am not talking about the grubs, although they certainly have selective hearing. I am talking about, sadly... the television set.

I remember growing up, watching my dad watch television... well, ‘watching’ might be the wrong word. He would yell at it. He would correct the news anchor about the proper pronunciation of a name. He would tell the quarterback what play to make and who to make it to. He would call the weatherman an idiot. I even remember, yes, him gathering us around the television set, demanding absolute silence, on August 8th, 1974, to listen to Richard Milhous Nixon resign as President of the United States. He demanded absolute silence... from us. Dad, however, made sure the errant POTUS was perfectly clear about the truth as Dad saw it. How do I remember this? It was just one of those things that was permanently stamped in my brain, but I also have a cassette tape with the speech on it, taken while I had to hold the little microphone up to the set through the whole damned thing, wishing the stupid asshole would just say he was a crook and a criminal and he was pulling the pin. My dad knew this would be a historic moment. He had no idea that, forty years later, it would be available to anyone at the touch of a computer key.

Now, don’t get me going on politics. When Dad watched politics on the television, it was just safer to go in the kitchen and start washing the dishes, or folding laundry. You did NOT want to vacuum floors... because he couldn’t hear over the vacuum to know what to yell at them, although something tells me he would have managed. My dad was passionate, and he had expectations, and television brought into his living room the epitome of stupidity every night. For me, however, there was no need to make a sound when watching... because you might miss something that one of Charlie’s Angels said as they solved the case, or you might not hear the cheap shot that Hutch was taking at Starsky. Television was to be watched, absorbed, and treasured, because you only got an hour or two a day, if there was anything worth watching on those two precious channels. I knew, though, without doubt, I would NEVER talk to the damned set.

Televisions have changed. They are bigger and flatter and clearer, and Lord knows, we have a lot more channels, which equates to a whole lot more crap to watch. I am not sure if it was during those pregnant years, when you have your feet up and General Hospital on the set that it happens. One day, you are quietly watching something on the old idiot box, and the next, you are screaming at Holly to not trust that bastard, Robert, because he is sleeping with Anna and she is nothing but trouble. “Don’t do it, Holly! He’s a slime! Hot... but a slime just the same!” It sneaks up on you... a comment at a soap opera, then the weatherman telling you to expect sunshine, while little rivers run down the picture window pane. How can you NOT scream at him for that? ‘Open your god damned window, you moron!’

To be fair to my father, I know he was concerned. He cared what was happening. He wanted his politicians to be honest, his bankers to be fair. He understood the intricacies of political debate and campaign mud-slinging, which, at my delicate, innocent young age I simply could not grasp. Now, however, I grasp just fine, and I have to say, those idiots on the television drive me crazy. The stupid crooks, the lying politicians, the slime-dogs and whore-wanna-be starlets who flash their panties at us, and i cannot leave out those incredibly annoying Viagra commercials and the Cialis bathtub shit (what the hell is that about anyways)... it is impossible to watch and NOT scream at them. To be totally honest, with the wisdom we have now gained, the insight, the retrospect, the chops we have cut, those stupid bastids should start listening to us. If they listened, they would hear the answer to how to fix the economy, they would know to put some decent clothes on that don’t show the crack of their ass (because seriously, it ain’t all that attractive, unless you are talking Antonio Banderas), they would know it was a stupid time to bunt, and that umpire would have made the proper call and not the dumbass one he did make. The grubs laugh, or roll their eyes, or make their smart little digs, but I know better. I know that soon enough, they too will be screaming at the set, and sharing their wisdom. It’s inevitable.

AGE: Mother nature’s way of saying

 ...“Ahhhhhhhhh fuck you"
(contributed by Paula Blois)

Did you know duct tape is the gift of the silver gods? Sure, we all know it’s great for little repairs around the house. Hell, even MacGyver never tapped it’s full  potential. Sagging boobs? Not an issue; duct tape those puppies where they belong and no one need know they have begun to migrate south faster than a flock of pigeons in January. Need an instant butt lift? Yep, you guessed it; Duct Tape is your friend. Don’t worry about coordinating with your now defunct wardrobe of khaki, black and white. This sticky substance of wonder comes in an array of colors ('colours' for some of my extremely stuck-up northern friends). I have ordered a case of 56 rolls in a variety of colors. I am experimenting with another use this product, especially for the very vain. You see, I’ve noticed my knees don’t like to cooperate with me lately. I’ve been in talks with the research and development of Duct Tape International, we should see a line of 'nude' tape on the market soon. Can you imagine never having to wear pantyhose, tights or stockings again? Double win, because when you rip this shit off of your legs, shaving will never be an issue again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

and other things that come back to bite us in the ass
(Contributed by Dave Smith)

So the new fifty-five is really forty-five, right? Sixty-five is the new fifty-five? I wonder if this is because as I grow into that age, the 65 one, I realize in truth that gas is simply a result of eating some flagrantly piquant Mexican delight? No, not that kind of delight; rather the edible kind. Hell, that is not correct either. It is always a question of the sauce, right? Well, not really. You see, at this age, I remember on rare occasion the fact that as an adolescent, smell… well, smell was in the hinter regions of my mind. If it swelled, which was constantly, then what the hell had smell to do with it? I admit to the sweet smell of a young lady, that it was intoxicating, brilliant plumage in my nose which went straight to my loins. That I admit to, however, not the stink of a sweaty piece of old meat. Harsh, you say? We all ripen with age? I suppose so. Problem is that at this age, other so readily useable passages being in decline, why is it that my smeller has taken over my damned body?

Speaking of my body, which I consider to actually be in reasonable shape, the delusions of age coming with perhaps too much squatting on the shitter, tortures me constantly. Perhaps it is my mind, which seems to be still in the effervescent river of my past that is causing the substitution of wish for reality? I arise each morning full of myself then I stand naked before the unfortunately placed full-length mirror by the bed – built-in closet and all that. The wife likes the sliding doors and the space. I have come to realize that it is actually a dastardly thing to do to a man who, the previous evening, ran full out for around an hour and a half. Not bad, right? No matter; the aged dissolve. The skin sags, the knees have curtains; it is, however, fair to say that I take no external medications or supplements, so what the hell can I expect? Thing is, I have expectations which fly away the minute I stand before the mirror. Understand; it is built-in. I said that, however, repeating it is important. Yes, it is the mirror's fault. You see, it never lies. It stares you in the face regardless of expectations from the night before. Enough of that!

At this age, with my life experience, I consider God a terrible plague on humanity. Yes, yes, one can argue it is a case of organized religion, however, I do not think that is the crux of the matter for me. I have stood on Mutter's Ridge, full of the glory of God and country. I was young at the time, full of the things that slip quickly into the night. It was not well worth it; the blood, the guts, the wailing of men. Yes indeed, it was a fine thing we were doing. Let me explain: Mutter's Ridge / Mother's Ridge -- it is a metaphor for all those who love God and country, which was a righteous thing at that age and for many it still is. I think most of us have stood on a Mother's Ridge, staring over the precipice, hoping, praying that it was them not us. I certainly did… then had to deal with the guilt. Years and years of said bullshit! I was wandering as I often do, had the mutt with me. I looked down at him. Unconditional love stared into my gut. I would say soul but that would be hypocritical of me, right? I realized that there was no God. Why the hell do I capitalize the word? Interesting programming, I should think. It was a strange place to come upon the fancy that we are born, live and die. When the computer is shut off, we are simply gone. How can I be sure? Christ, who is sure? Not me. You see, this is an age thing. Speaking for myself, it was just that simple spark of time when for some reason the synapses in the brain snap, the chemistry kicks you in the ass. I replied out loud "What the fuck!" then went on my merry way, understanding everything and realizing nothing at all. So it is, you see: The age thing -- everything and nothing. Makes perfect sense to me; then again, why not?


Yes, I asked that question of myself while looking at… shoes. Granted, it was always a consideration when I would shop for shoes, but never the number one priority. Back in the day, the way a patent pump molded the foot, the inches a stiletto added, the number of outfits this wedge would go with, and how many people the damned things would make jealous were of much more importance than ‘are they comfortable’. Hell, if they were awesome shoes but my size was sold out, I would even buy them in almost the right size, because what’s a little pain if you are smoking hot!

I had one of those very fleeting moments of insanity not that long ago when I saw it – a totally kick-ass pair of shoes. They had the four inch heels, the laces that wrapped up the calf, done in fuchsia leather. I actually, while in the midst of the brain fart of the century, considered buying the damned things. Then I realized the problem. What would I do with them? I sure as heck wouldn’t wear em. For starters, to where? The market or maybe my next appointment with the massage therapist? That would be cute, but handy. Even though I would be late arriving there, because it took me two hours to do up the damned laces on the shoes, she would stand there, eternally patient as she always is, watching me struggling to get the shoes off, then finally pulling some garden shears from my suitcase… ooops, I mean purse… so I could cut the suckers off. That would be the cute part. The handy part would be having her there to help me try to stand up again after twisting my back while walking in them, falling off them twice and messing up my ankle. She would adjust, massage, work away the pains, all the while adding just that right amount of gentle touch to my seriously bruised ego. We baby boomers love our massage therapists.

Our priorities have changed. While car shopping, we are now looking at the one that gives us the best mileage and will fit into that tiny space in front of the health clinic door. We look forward to Friday night, because we know the kids will be out and the house will be quiet, so we can fall asleep in front of the television set while watching reruns of Murder, She Wrote. Grocery shopping, we opt for the fiber and roughage aisles, and…. *gasp*… we clip coupons, because you know the economy is going in the tanker. We have to watch our money now. I call this being responsible. My son, who just dropped over a grand on a new laptop that will do everything for him but pump the gas in his car, calls it being anally retentive. It cannot be stressed enough how important anal retention can become as we age. He will learn… and I will be there smiling as he does.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Great Hair Migration...

… and other self-realizations as we grow older.

Two days before my mother’s 88th birthday, I was with her in the hospital. She was weak, she was tired, and she had been terribly alone since my father had passed some years earlier. In the midst of her surrendering to machines and strangers to help her do the things that we all take for granted – those things we all assume we will do for ourselves forever, things which makes us completely human and vulnerable -- she started to laugh. It was the first ‘real’ laugh I had heard from her in a while, especially since she had gotten so sick. In the middle of what we would normally consider an earth-shattering, mortifying personal hygiene crisis, my mother laughed and said ‘God sure has his ways of keeping us humble’. Her laugh was contagious, and her words lingered. Two days after her 88th birthday, she went to meet The Big Guy herself.

Since then, I have held her words dear to my heart, and I find strength in them, especially as I start this ‘aging’ thing myself. While pondering this, I realized that each age we reach has its own perspective of time and age. Once I was potty trained, I really didn’t give any thought to bathroom issues anymore. At that point, milestones were being able to walk to school alone and being old enough to play with Barbie dolls. Daylight savings time was a cruel trick. Christmas seemed to always take forever to arrive. In my teens, high school graduation was the holy grail. We focused on leaving home, getting a drivers license, that first kiss and our biggest hygiene concern was the latest hairstyle and hiding a new zit that erupted on Friday morning. In my twenties, it was pretty much about me. I was on top of the world, with tight boobs, flat tummy, gorgeous thick hair, a killer smile. At the end of those years, kids entered the scene and toilet issues jumped back on the front burner, but aging was something that was not even on the radar. Fifty was as good as dead. Thirties and forties? We had a better idea of what old age was, but we were NOT anywhere near it. We couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible.

Then we hit fifty. Once again, a shitty day becomes more than just a metaphor. We see our friends aging, have lost some along the way, and by some magical twist of God’s wrist, we swap roles with our parents. They become our concern. We watch their aging, we see their challenges, and we wonder what age will hold in store for us, and if some amazingly brilliant scientist will come up with a way to prevent it. So far, that hasn’t happened, and thus begins…


Hair: For many, there is that first lock from that first haircut, safely and lovingly stored away between the pages of a book. Used bookstores probably throw out bushels of precious locks, long forgotten in books that, for years, served no purpose other than to help boost up that duff leg on the table. As parents, we long for that first haircut, that first milestone in the life of a baby. We laugh as their hair grows, the more unruly, the better. Then those precious darlings hit their teen years, and we pray for them to do something about that damned greasy mop on their heads. Hair becomes a symbol of independence, a source of pride and power, our first means of defiance.

Many years ago, while at the home of a new acquaintance, I was looking at a stack of old pictures taken from the weddings of people I had not yet met. In the course of looking, I set them out on the table in proper chronological order. It wasn’t magic, or the gift of some inner vision. I didn’t look at the leaves on the trees, the color of the sky or the girth of any one waist, because those weren’t true indicators. The one undeniable tell-tale of the passing years was in the hairlines of the men as they inched further and further back.

Here’s the great lesson for the day: natural hair never lies. With it, we can look at someone and determine their age, health, social class, living conditions, diet and lifestyle. Someone undergoing chemo may have none. Movie stars have long full thick flowing locks that are always perfectly done. For a soldier, the telltale hair means business and dedication, nothing to hide at all, because from the moment he steps into boot camp and hears those buzzers, his life is not really his own anymore – defiance and rebellion fully contained. For a politician, millions will be spent on hiding the truth behind a good head of hair; it’s the price of power.

Men’s hair never really just ‘falls out’. It moves. Some of it slips down into their eyebrows, even to the point of requiring hedge trimmers to keep them under control. Some sneaks off and hides in their ears, or up their noses. I defy you to find me a twenty-year-old boy checking his ears for hair to pluck. The hair on a man’s chest starts the great trek north, over the shoulders and down the back. I have no idea if men obsess the way women do. On them, it’s a sign of wisdom, maturity, like a fine blend of herbs now allowed to infuse the whole dish.

As I stood in the shower this morning, undertaking the usual routine, I contemplated this issue of age. I checked to see how much of my hair is falling out. Does it feel more limp? Thinner? I would love for every other aspect of me to be thinner, but not my hair. It’s not fair that it always volunteers first for that duty. My hair has been braided, styled, curled, permed, straightened, conditioned and colored… but now I am just glad it’s still on my damned head. With age, however, I realize that men are not the only victims of the great hair migration. Twenty years ago, it never entered my mind that I might have to wake up early in the morning because I want to wear sandals that day – so I better shave my toes. Before, I used to spend time trying to find the ultimate way to keep the hair off my legs. Well, it tends to not be such an issue there… because it seems it too has migrated north -- to my face. Now I spend time in the store searching the shelves for a way to color it, remove it or at the very least style it, since it’s right there on my mug, for all the world to see. I think of the old milk ‘wear a moustache’ campaign and thank God it’s no longer on the television – because it might just mean I would have to kill someone.

We’re talking hair here. Does it never stop becoming an obsession for us? Then I think of Mom, in that hospital bed. She would wake up and ask me to comb her hair for her, so it was ‘presentable’. Never once did she concern herself with the sparse hair on her legs – her back was too painful to allow her to bend over to see it anyways. Hair on her toes? Who could tell when they were tucked in slippers, on feet that had seen 88years of hard labor and now showed that undeniable wear and tear. Armpits? She never lifted her arms anymore, so who would care. She was neat, clean, presentable, and she was Mom. She had more important things to worry about… chewing her food with store-bought teeth, trying to hear what you were saying because she couldn’t afford the hearing aid she needed. Her concern for the day: wondering what her kids, and their kids, were doing, what challenges they were facing that day, and how they would overcome those challenges to go on and face the next. Hair on her toes? That was for amateurs.

Baby Boomers, Unite! We shall overcome... or not, but we should at least have some fun in the process. Look at yourself, at the events of your day, and share with us your realizations and perspectives. Seriously, it will make this old age thing maybe not so unbearable after all.