Devil's Head Diary


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

Aging and the Insults Thereof

Aging is the preferred alternative, but age is also encumbered with a variety of afflictions, inconveniences and personal insults.

One insult that rankles is that while my skeleton is disintegrating and my muscles atrophy, my skin is in a phase of aggressive expansion. There was a time when my skin was a smooth, well-fitting container; today it falls in deep folds and soft drapes that flap, jiggle and sag. As an aficionado of the tai chi sword form, I have noted that on a fast spin, the skeletal framework stops, but the skin sack swirls like a chiffon evening gown before coming to rest.

At first, I thought that if the container was filled, it would fit better. Alas, unlike a pillow, the overstuffing did not eliminate wrinkles. Besides all that, hauling around the extra load of lard was turning into work.

Several months ago, I became aware of another age-related insult: The daily accumulation of residue in the shower drain brought on by the increasingly rapid departure of my once luxurious locks. I have considered organizing a campaign designed to alter society’s perception of attractive heads, by promoting the really, really, really wide part that is sported by so many men in my age group.

My old, midweek, cheap-seat, theater-junkie companion, Edna, has given some serious thought to alternatives for enduring the peekaboo scalp. One night, as the curtain was rising, she leaned over and whispered, “I think it’s time to get my head tattooed.” Her explanation was that a tattoo would reduce the distracting glare off her scalp and be a courtesy to those seated behind us.

I considered this option, but tattoos involve a lot of decisions. What color? Hair color changes and a light-absorbing dark tattoo just won’t cut it when your hair has already turned white. And in choosing a color, should it be an out-of-the-bottle natural shade or a trendy hot pink? DayGlo orange or Seahawk green? Because I do have a bit of self-awareness, I admit that routine color maintenance represents scheduling hassles and a time commitment beyond my capabilities.

Rationalization takes less effort and fits my comfort zone. After all, I have a backlog of experience, an accumulated knowledge of the world and a passel of book learning stored in the rafters of my being. How about this explanation: “Since my active brain soaks up all available nutrients, the malnourished roots give up and succumb to the pressure of my expanding neural network.”

Some consolation lies in the hope that there may be some truth in that old canard, “There are only so many perfect heads; all the others are covered with hair.”

Until I convince the fashionistas that the wide part is ever so elegant or I reach the perfect head state, I think I will see if I can get an appointment with the president’s hair stylist.

Carolyn Wiley lives in Longbranch.