What is it with men and our hair as we age?
First of all, mine is starting to grow fastest in the places I
want it least, like in my nostrils, ears and eyebrows. Who
needs more hair in their ears, anyway? What part do bushy
eyebrows play in the survival of the species?
Then there is the back and arm hair. I'm a sandy sort of
blonde, except on my upper arms and shoulders. A few years ago,
those areas suddenly belonged to someone else -- someone with dark,
matted hair, like the Wolman. I'm the blonde guy with the
white hair on his chest. So, why is the only place my hair
color isn't fading on my back?
I learned from watching my father, who was very bald on top but
had a nice crop clinging to the sides of his head, that the less
hair men have, the more effort and time we put into managing
it. He always went to the best of barbers and took great care
of his remaining foliage, sort of like a farmer working hardest in
a barren field.
It isn't just where the hair grows, our attitude about the hair
changes, too. I can remember watching Andy Rooney on
TV. Over the years, his eyebrows got so bushy they looked
like birds' nests. He never seemed to mind, but it drove me
crazy. "Cut the brush," I used to yell at the set.
Now, my own eyebrows have begun to flourish. At first I
was concerned and quick to trim them. Now, I don't
know. It is starting to look good to me, the way they go in
every direction, peeking out over my glasses. Well, it is
kind of professorial! Maybe it draws attention away from my
Which brings up another thing: comb-overs. I mean,
does Donald Trump really think he is fooling anyone? Then I
noticed the other day that I've been combing my hair
differently. Not a comb-over really, more of an inverted
wave. It looks sort of natural unless the wind is blowing
against me. Then it can become a tsunami that makes the
Donald's hair look mild and reasonable.
Can we talk about men's hair without mentioning ponytails?
The boomer generation is possibly the first since Daniel Boone's to
bring back ponytails for men. In a way, I can understand
this. Back in the 60's, my hair covered my collar by several
inches. More than once someone chastised me with the remark, "With
all that hair, I can't tell if it's a boy 'r a girl." Believe
me when I say, I loved having my hair long. But, as the hair
thins and recedes, does gathering it in a bunch in the back really
solve the problem?
All this being said, if my hair starts to reach over my collar,
I want it to keep going no matter how thin and sparse it
Fortunately, there is my lovely wife, Kelly. She lets me know
when the length is reaching beyond reason or the eyebrows are
beginning to look too scary. She helps me avoid the comb-over
with a shorter-style cut that looks professional and is less
startling to passers-by on a windy day. Best of all, she
keeps me convinced that each of time's whimsical changes is somehow
Aging in Place, it doesn't happen by accident. But,
sometimes, it looks like it.
Scott Funk is Vermont's leading Aging in
Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of
concern to retirees and their families.