Just call me Grandpa Groovy. I’m undergoing a new stage in life. Cutting my second set of false teeth. A recurrence of midlife mischief. As expected and dreaded, my face has indeed acquired considerably more character lines than when I cut my first set of choppers (and temporarily possessed a red Ferrari). This time, as fate would have it, one scary surprise has devolved: the hair on my arms, legs and chest have vanished. Without waxing.
But one ace in the hole has lain under my cap for years. I still have a huge load of head hair. Hasn’t even turned gray. Yet. Except my beard. So, as a natural born narcissist, I dye my beard to match my head hair. Well, matches, except when I become preoccupied during the dying process and leave the dye on too damn long. And I do that all the time. Scariest sight I’ve ever seen in a mirror. Terrifies others too, but I’m a prankster so that’s a bonus. Still, as a guy who couldn’t grow hair on his face until I was 36, even an exceptionally black and scary beard is better than no beard.
To unscramble my hideous hormones in time to maintain my image as a radical rascal, I’ve decided to recapture a particular piece of my youth before the parade passes by. I’ve let my stunning head of hair grow to hippy-length. Furthermore, I race around town spewing out hippy words like “Right on! and Uptight!” Even big hippy words like “Relevant!” and “Establishment.” Plus substituting the word “sir” with “man,” as in “Hey, man, what time does the ocean close?”
A few days ago, it was warm enough in New York City for me to wear a tank top. On the subway, I noticed two young girls no older than 45 or 50 staring at me, their faces wreathed with smiles. I knew my long locks had gotten their attention. Ah, I was young again. Stevo still had it. And just when I had been told that my hippy hair was making me too stuck up to live with.
Then, a few days later, I was toweling off after a shower when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. To my horror, I noticed a pathetic hunk of sagging skin hanging under my right arm. I checked my other arm. Ah, thank God. The skin was sagging there, too. Symmetrical sagging. A dream come true. Not! My God almighty! Those smiling subway girls weren’t admiring my daring hairstyle. They were giggling over my loose skin.
Blessed as I am with oodles of head hair, there’s still no denying that gravity can be vicious on an aging body. I’ve all but given up my membership to nude beaches. Still, I search for ways to at least make my aging face fit better with my comely coiffure. I ruled out Botox. No way, man. Allergic. To needles. But I’m super-allergic to wrinkles. Not to worry: turns out that lying down on my back makes facial wrinkles disappear.
Ya know, I’m almost certain I can recall Erma Bombeck’s puzzling out in jest once how to enter a room horizontally. With class. Clearly, Erma possessed a decided advantage. She was sane. In a recent nightmare, my grandsons carried me into a roomful of people for a grand entrance, with not a wrinkle on my face. Problem was, when I stood up, everyone shrieked and scattered. Everyone except those two gals from the subway who were pointing at me and laughing hysterically.
As the hippest hipster on the block, I’m not trying to find myself anymore. I’m just trying to do my own thang. I’m forbidden to buy a Harley Davidson to accommodate my second midlife crisis, but I do get plenty of second looks riding on a senior citizen tricycle, my long hair freely flowing in the wind. The other day, I peddled to the park and came upon another baby boomer who has adopted the hippy look. I’m such a trendsetter. He too was piloting his senior tricycle, probably cruising for chicks.
“Hey man, what up?” Nice bell-bottoms,” I said.
“Sup, man? Nice we’re having weather.”
“Like totally, man. Nice we’re having weather.”
Instant bonding. Turned out we both love to play the boyhood game of marbles but no one else will play with us. We agreed to get together some Sunday and play marbles. Here’s a pathetic coincidence: Neither one of us can find our marbles. Lost. What are the odds?
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.