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, November 20, 2011

Breasts and Beards

     Funny things, hormones.
     When you’re adolescent, they kick in big time – and we can’t wait for them to do their stuff. Boys check the mirror each morning in search of whiskers to shave. Girls anticipate the hormones’ arrival with the lyric best expressed in “A Chorus Line” – “tits, when am I gonna grow tits?”
     The bodily changes happen and things pretty much stay the same through middle age. But as we get older, something strange occurs. The hormones are back. But the second time around, their effects are reversed.
     Women start getting a little more testosterone, perhaps to give them a hand with increased assertive behavior when they outlive their mates (as most women do) and have to run the show on their own. But with testosterone comes those whiskers the teenage boys were longing for. Older women become more hirsute. You may have noticed this when you kissed your grandmother and got whisker burn. The electric shaver becomes one of an older woman’s best friends.
     Men start getting more progesterone, perhaps to finally get us more in touch with our feminine side. We tear up in movies more easily, and don’t care who knows it. We seem to be more empathetic. And those tits? Yes, men start getting them, too.
     I didn’t notice at first that it was happening to me, because I was working out, lifting weights. “Man, look at those pecs!” I’d marvel. The weights must really be working.. But then I began working out less. My biceps and triceps pretty much returned to their pre-workout size. But the “pecs” stayed as is.
     Fortunately, I’m pretty lean of build so my man-boobs aren’t all that big. If you’re a heavier guy, though, you may want to consider slimming down some before your polo shirts start looking  as though they were designed for Dolly Parton.
     As I said, funny things, hormones. And funny thing, life. We start out in diapers. Boys grow whiskers. Girls grow breasts. Then women grow whiskers. Men grow breasts. And we ultimately end up in diapers again.
     All you can do is laugh.

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