Aging and Accompanying Fears

I used to tell people that I only had two fears regarding aging: (1) hair growing out of my ear canal, and (2) having toenails that look like Fritos Scoops®.

I used to tell people that I only had two fears regarding aging: (1) hair growing out of my ear canal, and (2) having toenails that look like Fritos Scoops®. Well, I have hair growing everywhere and have for some time now. Gym class at Tyner Junior High School was an embarassment for me, largely because the secondary sex characteristics involving body hair awakened in me before pretty much everyone else at my school. Though the 70s were dawning, my classmates were ready for neither a hairy chest nor a moustache [cue classic 70s porno soundtrack featuring a sinuous boom-chicka-baio-baioooo electric guitar]. In fact, my mother had this preternatural fear of my shaving for the first time, claiming that once I "did it" the hairs would grow back twice as thick and abundant (and this is a bad thing?). Tired of looking like I had a really dirty face, I sneaked over to my sister Audrey's trailer next door where my same-age niece/best friend Rhonda let me shave with her powder blue Lady Schick electric. The conspiritorial buzz and the smell of hot hair and motor oil gave way to a smooth and clean mug. Sure, it grew back, but it didn't reach Hagrid-like proportions until some years afterwards.

I'm sorry to report follicular activity in my ear canals, however. Rather than have a barber tidy up in there with those tiny, pointed, razor-sharp scissors, I tweeze them myself. The amount of hair is notable, but it's all very light in color at this point. Manscaping . . .

The toenails are still okay, thankfully. While I could never quit teaching to become a toe/foot model, the nail beds have yet to thicken and grow yellow. Of course, I make it a point to wear flip-flops or sandals every year to watch people's reactions. I've yet to have a brutally honest kindergartener shriek, "What's wrong with your TOENAILS!"

When I went for my pre-op checkup a few weeks ago, a new aging fear reared its pointed little head. As one of the beautiful young female nurses attended to me (not Jewel, the exquisite Asian who removed my cathater), she talked to me in a voice a few DBs louder than needed. The little doll thought I was hard of hearing! ("OKAY, Mr.INGle! You need to walk RIGHT DOWN THE HALL and go into the door marked LAB SAMPLES, OKAY?"

So, enter Fear Number Three: young professional women talking to me loudly and using ageist endearments such as "sweetie" and "darling" while employing broad (READ: easy-to-see) gestures and facial expressions.

sigh.

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