Published on October 22nd, 2015 | by Richard Black0
I Will Whisper…” Responding Appropriately to Comments About Aging
I recently turned forty plus and my body hasn’t taken the news well.
It’s a strange fact about aging but the fatter I become and the more hair that falls out of my head and sprouts in my ears, (shoulders, back, eyebrows, forehead, you get the idea) the more attention I spend on my appearance.
I used to be able to shower in about seven minutes. Now there’s a lot of ancillary activity that needs to take place. If you’ve ever tried to shave your back in the yourself I encourage you to give it a shot. It’s a recipe for hilarity and I’m thinking about filming the event for the amusement and edification of the general public. LIFEHACK!!! A safety razor duct taped to the end of a selfie stick can help you reach those hard to get areas.
Five years ago I got a haircut every few months. The messy look was in and it really didn’t matter how long my hair grew. These days with my hairline in retreat I try to visit my local barber about every three days. Short hair implies that I’m making the best of a bad deal, that I’m pragmatic and boldly going where many other confident balding men have gone before.
If it would make a difference I’d get my hair cut every day. Unfortunately it doesn’t. Without the benefit of a weave or hair plugs, hormones and pharmaceuticals so powerful that they may give my daughter facial hair and five sets of gonads I’m doomed. The only rational recourse is to trim my hair to a point somewhere in between “This is NOT a combover” and “I’m accepting my limitations”.
I am, apparently, an incredibly vain man and becoming more so every day. Comments I would have shrugged off in my thirties are now cause for a bit of snark if not outright and blatant aggression.
“You look tired. Are you getting enough sleep?” I’ll hear from some well meaning family member or friend.
“I’m actually going for a more ‘lived in’ kind of look,” I’ll say if I’m in a good mood and then reply that I didn’t know they made serapes that big for women. If I’m not feeling particularly upbeat I usually smash the nearest empty bottle of beer against the side of a changing table, childcare facility or courthouse and jab the pointy end at the person with the misfortune of making the comment. It turns out I’m…a bit crabby when I don’t get my rest.
Aside from comments about the bags under my eyes or rapidly receding hairline it’s the ones about my weight that I find truly upsetting. I’ve always tried to keep physically fit. In my twenties I visited a gym a once or twice a month, chain smoked four packs of cigarettes a day and drank a few gallons of coffee to keep my heart rate up. Now I find that the older I get it’s tougher to keep off the pounds with just nicotine and caffeine. I’m looking into amphetamines and seriously considering an eating disorder.
More than any other question however, the one that never fails to send me into an emotional tailspin, is the seemingly innocuous query “Do you work out?”
This is, I feel compelled to note, not a question anyone in their right mind would ask a woman. It is on par with “Are you pregnant?” and “What did you make for dinner?” in terms of things to ask the fairer sex if you want to get stabbed in the throat with a spoon.
Up until a few weeks ago I responded to these sorts of queries with my usual well mannered wit.
“Nope I’m putting on weight for the winter. Can you pass the butter? It pairs well with the bacon and the chorizo.”
“Why yes I masturbate for thirty minutes every day in the shower. I think the key to exercise is finding something you like to do.”
“Yeah DUDE! I’m TOTALLY into CROSSFIT! I LOVE IT!!! I’ve lost like five pounds in three days! I can actually lift a forty five pound barbell with my dick. Here man I’ve got a video of it…wait…where are you goin’? All right I’ll see you later dude. Maybe we can catch up in the shower.”
While emotionally satisfying my repartee is not without its repercussion. The circle of friends and family who currently return my emails is now limited to about three people. My wife, my daughter and a great uncle whom I thought had passed away but, apparently, is still playing Slotmania on his phone from the great beyond.
Now I’m not a bright man but I realized that it was time for a change and not just for the sake of my dwindling social life. I’m a great guy and it’s incredibly important for me that others to realize that fact.
I took a lot of time thinking about what Richard 2.0 might look like and considered the important questions. Can I pull off a pair of skinny jeans? Is wearing black t-shirts too passe? Should I affect a bow-tie and get a series of crappy tattoos around my neck in cursive script? What hair product defines me as a person?
Like switching one’s political beliefs completely revamping your personality doesn’t happen overnight. There are Facebook and Twitter accounts to create and something called Snapchat that promises to delete my pictures and videos in the same way my mother promised that she’d delete the picture she took of me taking my first poopie.
It takes, in short, a lot of work but I believe that I have truly changed and metamorphosed into a simulacrum of a decent person, a kinder gentler sort of guy whom people might genuinely want to know and respect. I even bought a few sweaters in pastel colors to show what a self aware and all around great guy I am.
Real change, however, is only evinced through one’s actions. The next time I’m subjected to an unwanted comment on my husky body type, balding head, or enlarged prostate I have determined to take the higher path. I will hug my persecutor and I will whisper.
“Your hair smells delicious,” I will whisper ever so softly into the ear of the thirty something mother with beautiful chestnut locks who asked if I go to the dentist, “If we weren’t in public I would put your entire head in my mouth.”
“You’re breasts are remarkable,” I will whisper to the grandmother of my godchildren the next time she asks if I’ve thought about using Rogaine, “are they God’s work or Dr. Goldman’s?”
“If I could have one wish it would be to have the ability to have your baby,” I will whisper to the father who has his arm around his children’s nanny when he asks me if I work out for the 185th time.
“If I were Sophie I would have chosen you,” I will whisper to the UPS delivery man who snickered when I answered the door in my boxers.
“You complete me,” I will whisper…
I will whisper…