August 20, 2006

White Whiskers - a sad old man?

After a few days without a shave, I can see white whiskers sparkling on my cheeks. Truth be known, at 45, I'm grey as an old man. My temples are pure white, Reed Richards style, and I'm more salt than pepper across the top of my head too. My chest hair is going white. WTF. When I was a kid, I felt more mature than my years, felt more mature than my friends, and longed for the day when I could be my own independent person, and have my own life.

I get my hair coloured by a pro every month of so, and the only painting I do anymore is to apply "Just for Men" to my beard. Only my hairdresser (bless her) knows for sure.

It's funny how white whiskers on my own face kind of spook me. I just want to scrape them off. It's been a couple of days since I last shaved, and much longer since I dyed my hair or beard.

The white hairs make me think of my Dad. All my life he'd been silver-haired. I remember being a little boy, and getting "whisker burns" from him when I'd kiss him goodnight. I'd lean in to kiss him on the cheek, and he'd suddenly, sneakily scrub his rough face into mine and say "whisker burn", and we'd both laugh.

At other times, his unshaven white whiskers would signal that the weekend had come, or some other time when his appearance didn't matter to him so much, or if he'd been drinking or just didn't give a damn.

Sometimes those white whiskers were a hint that he wasn't at his best, that perhaps I should be careful or cautious around him - that maybe he'd be angry, drunk, or lose his temper or maybe he'd be feeling sad or regretful. It usually made me a bit uneasy whenever he'd let himself go in little ways like that. Now I understand that it can't be easy to carry an emotional burden or an addiction with nobody your own age to unload on.

Grey and white are the colours of old age, and reminders of the finiteness of life, and of my genetic heritage (my Mum went grey early in life as well). For each of us, the clock is ticking.

I'm not overly obsessed with my looks or appearance, and I don't have a ginormous ego or anything, but I will adjust my image, and try to keep some aspects of my persona - little secrets - under my control. Then, when I'm ready to look like an old man, like my old man, I will let it happen...

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