Johnson: Feral nose and ear hair: Up to my neck in “Golden Pond”
It’s right there in the Bible. Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before the fall.” And “The Fall” sneaks up with the stealth of a practiced assassin. Next thing you know you can’t get up, and your bathtub has a chair and a door in it. Lord, I never thought I’d live long enough to get old.
It starts subtly, with receding hairlines, crow’s feet wrinkles and, most hurtful, going unnoticed (as in, invisible!) by the fairer gender. You start skipping showers, wearing the same shirt four days in a row…the one with egg yolk dribbled down the front…and wondering how the Fountain of Youth suddenly turned into a “Golden Pond.” One day you’re a tall, tanned and ruggedly handsome outdoor gent, the next, you’re standing in front of a truthful mirror, aghast at the exacting toll sun, time and gravity has taken on your body. A thousand pushups and the best haircut in the world can’t arrest “The Fall” from pride and pulchritude (sniff).
As a young shaggy-haired, dust-behind-the-ears cowboy—smelling of kid-sweat and dirty socks—it took a wedding or a funeral to get me a barbershop haircut. Back in the '50s, barbershops were a man’s domain (even if I did need a booster seat). I felt all grown up amidst the shaving and shearing of the woolly brotherhood…cigar and cigarette smoke hanging like LA smog, tearing blue eyes and greening my gills.
I remember one barbershop experience in particular. There were seven chairs and eight barbers, the eighth being a “sub.” I took a reluctant seat in the waiting area. Hugh Downs hosted “Concentration” on a soundless black and white TV, while I perused a stack of “Look” and “Life” magazines, ogling movie stars and Edsels that featured Pushbutton Drive on steering wheels. After much financial debate, I traded a dime for a six-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola.
Barbershops soon went the way of six-ounce Cokes. Blame the '60s—post-Beatles—when males began growing out their hair. It was an unsettled, transitional time; a new culture was exploding in the faces of old “establishments.” Would-be June Cleavers traded aprons for abortion rights placards and burned their bras in the name of “Women’s Liberation.” Dylan and Hoffman warned us not to trust anyone over 30, and Madalyn Murray O’Hair spit in the face of God.
The irony is that Barbershops were a casualty of changing hairstyles. Bimonthly haircuts gave way to annual events. I had to bid my aging barber farewell after he twice bared my ears and neck. He couldn’t adjust. To him a “haircut” would always mean, “above the collar, over the ears and tapered.” I developed a flirtatious relationship with his replacement beautician…even let her talk me into a regrettable Afro perm.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, wading into Golden Pond with man-boobs, bald spots and feral ear and nose hairs running amuck. I stoop to Super-Walmart clip joints, pining the loss of manly barbershops, the wooly brotherhood, and thinking there’s got to be a better way. Desperate, I fell victim to a late night infomercial and ordered one of those Flo-bee suck 'n cut thingies that hooks up to a Shop Vac…and thus, became a devout practitioner of the fine art of self-mutilation.
It’s a hard landing after “the fall” from Pride and Pulchritude. My unease with beauty shops and staring at the reflection of what looks like an old man under cadaver-blue florescent lighting, while some Collège de Coiffeur teenybopper with a rat's nest of purple hair and enough tattoos and piercings to be the feature attraction at a “Ripley's” attempts to bridge our generation gap with “Cosmo” based small talk.
There came an epiphany after one particularly excruciating Wally-cut, and it was this: I'd rather be on the receiving end of a prostate exam than endure another mirror session with Chatty Scissorhands...high on Red Bull, reeking of perm solution and playing Russian Roulette with my eyesight via pointed instruments. I mean, at some age-point in life one must accept that they are beyond the help of a pseudoscience, and nothing short of a facelift and liposuction could postpone Golden Pond. Oh to be rich.
Now that I’ve all but taken up residence in Golden Pond, I’m willing to endure the self-inflicted wounds of botched Flo-bee haircuts in exchange for renouncing cadaver mirrors and Grand Canyon generation gaps at Wally Cuts. I’ll stay within the safe and normal confines of manly endeavors like tinkering in the garage, drinking fine IPA’s at local pubs and pushing my declining limits on an old Gary Fisher 29’er. As for botched Flo-bee haircuts, going gray and bald spots…that’s what ball caps are for, and why you’ll never catch me without one. They are my bridge to acceptance. Once bald, I’ll focus on those infernal nose and ear hairs that propagate geometrically with age and settle for being beautiful on the inside.
Mark Johnson is a restless soul who lives in Ouray, Colorado with his wife, Bobbie. He is happiest when exploring the West's nooks and crannies, hiking, climbing and mountain biking. He authors two "wanderlust" based blogs: www.Artfulrvadventures.com and www.Boxcanyonblog.com.