Let's Talk Character Lines - Better with Age #21

Posted by Jessica Hegg on

man gazing

I try pretty hard not to be such and "old" Old Guy in my thoughts and actions, but I have to admit that it's still hard for me to think of my grown children as actual adults.  I'm not sure why that is, exactly, for not only are all my children mature and responsible and accomplished, but they're also well past their "early adulthood years."  In fact, though it seems impossible for me to believe, they're not too far from the beginning of Middle Age.  But still, in my mind, I've got them pegged as teenagers, or maybe college students.  Young adults at best.  This drives them crazy, I know, and I've been trying to change my mindset a little, but it's been a hard habit to break.  I really  have to force myself to think of them as fellow adults, people who deserve my respect and are worth listening to for advice and wisdom.

And I guess a big part of the problem is that my kids still look so young to me! In fact, everybody in that generation, they all look young to me.  And I know this isn't just my faulty old-man perception at work here--I'm convinced that the advances in health care and the scientific and medical discoveries of the last generation or so have made a huge impact on the the way people look.  Just a simple practice, like using sunblock, for instance--when I was a kid, you never used sunblock.  You just went out and played in the Summer with nothing on your skin and you got a deep tan.  Now, of course, everybody's well aware of the harmful effects of the sun's rays and all parents cover their kids with coats and coats of sunblock.  This medical breakthrough has even reached old guys like me, for I never go into the sunlight without a big smear of sunblock on my skin.

When you see old pictures from the 40s and 50s, it's shocking to discover the actual ages of the people in the photos.  Everybody looks so much older than they do today! I've got a copy of Hank Williams "Greatest Hits" and I can't believe, when I look at the cover picture, that Hank was only 29 when he died.  29! His picture--with that lantern face, that wrinkled skin--looks like 58, easy. I know Hank burned the candle at both ends back then, but in 2016, he could probably pass for somebody's grandfather.

I swear, my kids could still pass for twenty-somethings today, even though it's been a while since they've been close to that age.  And I guess is doesn't just "happen," either, because I've noticed that each of them takes special care of the way their skin looks.  I was a little shocked that BOTH my sons use "moisturizer"--I discovered this after their last family visit--and that they have numerous lotions and potions that they use on a regular basis.  Guys using moisturizer? I try not to be too judgmental and macho about this, but it's quite a difference from when I was young.

Now, don't get me wrong, there's not a mirror in my house that doesn't get viewed by me at least once every day, and I certainly am not ashamed to admit to my own profound vanity--but I guess I'm reaching the age where I don't immediately associate "beauty" with "youth."  I don't begrudge my kids' generation for their youthful looks, and I won't think twice if my daughter decides she wants to smooth out some of those wrinkles on her forehead.  (She hasn't yet, but she's talked about it.)  But I don't know--I find those "character lines" in your face sort of appealing.  My doctor once asked me if I wanted to have "something done" around my eyes--they're a little baggy--but I couldn't imagine it.  It's weird to say, but I've grown a little fond of those wrinkles.  They represent a lot to me, good and bad, and I feel like I've earned each and every one of them.  Like a badge of honor, as opposed to something you should be ashamed of.  And besides, they don't make me scream in horror when I look at myself in the mirror every morning, so. . .

I asked my wife about those wrinkles, and if she thought I should have anything done, and she didn't know what to say.  I absolutely stumped her with the question.  "I've never really noticed," she finally said, a little sheepishly.

"I've had them for decades.  Are you saying you haven't looked at my face in twenty years?"

"It's not that," she said quickly.  "But. . . it's just that we sorta move through life side-by-side now, instead of face-to-face."

(Which was sweet, and which made me smile)

but I couldn't resist asking...

"Would you notice then if I started wearing a pirate's eye patch over one eye?"

"Probably. Though I'd also notice if you had a couple of black eyes."

...and that's when I decided that maybe it was time to talk about something else besides my foxy, old-Grandpa looks.

Until next time,

Christoff's Dad

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