Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hair Raising

     Getting older can be a hairy proposition. I mean that literally.
     Sure, some people actually seem to lose hair in the process. Men go bald. Women’s hair can become seriously thin, or their foreheads get higher and higher. It keeps wigmakers in business.
     But I suspect that we don’t actually lose hair. It just is sucked into our craniums somehow – sort of the way a gopher will pull one of your prize plants down into its hole – and the hairs pop out at other places on our bodies.
     Ears, for instance. Hair begins appearing on the inside edge of your ears, just above the lobe. If it isn’t trimmed back regularly, it could develop into such a tangle that you’d probably have trouble hearing. You’d certainly have trouble getting a hearing aid through the thicket.
     Eyebrows, too. The brows just start growing as if they have minds of their own. Women pluck them, as they’ve done for years, but now with greater intensity. Men tend to tame their brows with scissors (we have lower thresholds of pain, apparently, and plucking is no picnic). Let the brows go, of course, and you get the Andy Rooney effect. People looking at you may be able to detect your eyes under there somewhere, but don’t count on it. Clearly, Rooney is not self-conscious. Clearly, he is the exception.
     And then there are the hairs on chests and arms. All of them get longer. And longer. If we still lived in caves, only the elderly would have a chance at survival by weaving those arm and chest hairs into blankets. You thought those pictures of cavemen showed them wearing animal skins? Not so. They were growing their own animal skins.
     None of this is particularly pretty. None of this is particularly ugly. It just is what it is.
     Hairs to you.
     Hairs to us all.


  1. Hey. in my case losing my hair means getting reral chilly. I don't have clothes like you humans.