It happened again the other day.
It happens all the time, and it never bothered me. But lately – since turning fifty last year – it … like me … is starting to grow a bit old.
It seems that anytime I take my daughters anywhere, somebody we run into always makes a comment to my girls like:
“Isn’t it nice that your grandfather brought you out today”
This time Alannah and I were at a walk in clinic.
Alannah had gotten in the way of a team mate's swinging bat during a soft-toss station during fast pitch practice. It cracked her hard on the right hand just below her wrist. I turned my head from doing something else to see what the commotion was and there was Alannah with a group of coaches and parents around her as she held her thumb in pain.
She wasn’t paying attention, and reached in to grab a loose ball for the coach running that station. She wasn’t aware enough of what was going on around her. It was Alannah’s own fault, not the player who was swinging the bat.
So the next morning, I took Alannah to the clinic to get it x-rayed, just to make sure nothing was broken. And in the end, nothing was. It just hurts to get hit by a bat.
So as the good doctor entered the patient room the nice nurse lady had placed us in, he said …
“Ahh you must be Alannah and this of course is Grandpa”
“Uh … that’s my Dad”, replied Alannah.
I just smiled and nodded.
Okay, I’m grey. And right now my hair is a lot longer than I like it – because it’s so cold. And right now my beard is fuller than I usually keep it, again because it’s cold. So both these facial features – along with a few more wrinkles than I had the year before - make me look like a little old man.
But in my brain I’m just a hair over thirty.
When the grey first started showing on me a decade ago, I tried those hair and beard coloring products – to restore my natural color. But even I thought it looked pretty fake. So I quit coloring it and instead started cutting it really short.
Okay, I shaved it.
My lovely wife Darlene usually does it for me – using only a number two clipper. Ten minutes later and I look a decade younger, except the wrinkles of course.
But this year, my lovely wife pushed back. “I like your long curly wavy hair”, she repeated again last week.
“But it’s all grey”, I replied. “I look like a groupie of the Grateful Dead. Like a lifelong roadie for the Rolling Stones”, I protested.
“You’re so lucky to have all your hair. So many men don’t, especially at your age”.
Especially at my age?
So I relented. And now as I sit here and write this post, my head looks like a ruffled feather duster that used to be black but is now covered by the dust it just collected.
Long hair doesn’t make you look younger.
I run a pool league at our local Legion. I am one of the youngest members. But the other night, talking about retirement – one of the older members looked at me shocked when he found out I had not yet retired!
“Well how old are ya?” he asked.
“I’m only fifty”, I said to the sixty eight year old captain.
“Really, my goodness, I thought you were older than me?”
Okay. I get it. I look old.
But looks alone won’t get me an early retirement.
And I play a lot of ball – practicing with the girls twice a week. Running drills is usually more work for the coach than it is for the player.
But I don’t look older than sixty eight.
In the summer it’s a little better. The sun on my skin and the swimming in the pool makes the skin look a little younger – at least it hides the wrinkles – but in the long run it probably contributes more to the problem.
And right now it’s February.
Perhaps I’m taking the wrong tact on this whole issue.
Perhaps I should embrace my appearance of advanced age, and instead play it up to display a false sense of wisdom. Perhaps if I carried a cane and smoked a pipe. I could squint more than I already do when I try to read, and maybe start asking people to repeat what they say as if I didn’t hear them the first time.
Maybe they would give me a distinguished title at work and start planning my retirement party with complete benefits and a full pension.
Nah, they know me too well there. They’d never fall for it.
Maybe I should just ask my daughters to call me Grandpa.