|by Eric Morrison
|Like Sand through an Hourglass
I noticed something frightening this morning while shaving my head. (Just for the record, I shave my head because I like it, because it's cooler in the steamy summer months, and prickly hair helps velcro wigs to my head, not because I'm going bald.) I spotted an inch-long, curly hair waving to me in the mirror, on the side of my head, right above my ear. Head-shaving is not an exact science, and it's easy to miss a hair now and then. I thought to myself, "Wow, I must have missed that hair for at least a couple of weeks, for it to be that long." I buzzed over the spot above my ear a few times, but the straggler stubbornly remained. Upon closer inspection, I realized that the hair in question was growing out of the top of my ear, not the side of my head! I never glimpsed a hair on my ear before age 30. Like Job crying out to God to end his suffering, I pleaded to the ceiling, "Why do I have a hair on my ear?!? Why do I need a hair on my ear?!? WHY?!?" Actually, I just rolled my eyes, cursed the hair, and plucked it out with a pair of tweezers, but I felt like beseeching the Almighty.
They say that a lot of body hair growth is leftover from our ancient ancestors who needed it for protection from the cold. But I don't wear a loincloth (except at New Year's), and I don't need hair sprouting on my ears, back, or shoulders to keep me warm. That's what American Eagle sweatshirts are for. It's time for the evolutionary process to speed it up a little and stop commanding stray hairs to pop up on strange parts of my body.
As I get older, I also find myself making strange noises from time to time. At times, my body is like an uncontrollable, little, funny noise machine. Is it possible to have physical, instead of verbal, Tourette Syndrome? On some days, my right knee cracks with every step. Not long ago, I visited a museum, and aside from light whispers as guests admired this painting and that sculpture, the only noise in the room was the very loud popping of my knee. Perhaps when I hit 40, I can take a job as a weather forecaster, predicting humidity, rain, and hurricanes based on my noisy joints. "My knee's popping like crazy this morning. Expect torrential downpours this afternoon!" Arthritis runs in my family, so joint noises and my large knuckles could be serious, and that scares me. What's the deal with arthritis, anyway? Like allergies, it's all about the body attacking itself. How can I win the war against aging when I can't even count on my own body not to launch some crazy Kamikaze mission? More frequently, too, I moan and groan when I stand up, bend over, or get out of bed. It's becoming a reflex reaction. Even when I wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I give a little sigh. My partner does it, too, and I think we reinforce each other's nasty habit. It seems to me, too, that the older you get, the less warning your body gives you before issuing a belch, a cough, a sneeze, or a myriad of other embarrassing emissions. And don't get me started on the snoring thing. Or my dwindling metabolism.
There's something to be said for "growing old gracefully," but with so many options these days for peeling away the years, the temptation to halt the march of time across your face is almost too much to resist. There are face-lifts, Botox treatments, peels, nips, tucks, sucks, surgeries, creams, lotions, ointments, mud baths, and body wraps. As for plastic surgery, if it's done right, I think it's a wonderful thing. For example, I think Joan Rivers looks incredible for her age. Sure, her face is pulled tighter than the skin on Ricky Ricardo's conga drum, but who cares? She looks much better than she would without the surgery, and perhaps most importantly, she openly admits to her surgeries, has a sense of humor about her vanity, and refuses to apologize for any of it. Kudos, too, to Dolly Parton, Kathy Griffin, and Cher, a few of my other favorite partially-plastic divas. As I get older, I just may subscribe to Dolly's
philosophy: "If I see something sagging, bagging, and dragging, I'm going to nip it, tuck it, and suck it!" Unfortunately, you also have the Jocelyn Wildensteins and Donatella Versaces of the world, who've crossed the line, moving from a little bit of rejuvenation to all-out addiction and virtual disfigurement. If you want to see some scary mugs and over-inflated lips to make Mick Jagger jealous, check out awfulplasticsurgery.com. Just make sure you haven't eaten recently.
All joking aside, I really don't mind growing older. I never dread a birthday. Instead, with so much death and dying in the world, I truly feel blessed to see another year. With all the sickness and suffering in the world, I'm happy to be healthy. With all the poverty in the world, I'm glad to be prosperous. I'm lucky to be sane, able-bodied, and loved, so I'm lucky enough. If I go ahead with the porcelain veneers for my smile, that's just icing on the cake. My feminine alter ego, Anita, gets cracks in her make-up from the foundation settling into the crow's feet, but she's still flying high. Younger girls may be able to dance better, but I can afford to buy fringe dresses and hanging sequin gowns that do a lot of the work for me. After all, it's all an illusion. The real gem about aging is the wisdom you accrue, enabling you to reach down life's ladder and help pull up those below you. On a slightly selfish note, if you're smart, your savvy also allows you to avoid repeating past mistakes and putting yourself through unnecessary pain. Like Kathy Bates' character in Fried Green Tomatoes, there might be people younger and faster, but I have better insurance, and it keeps getting better every year. As long as I can keep from losing my mind, I have everything to gain.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 08 June 27, 2008