The unkindest cut is sometimes self-inflicted 17

If you’ve ever cleared brush, you know that getting rid of the shrubby stuff makes even the smallest tree look bigger. And while this may be good land management, it does not necessarily translate to smart personal grooming.

I bring this up because for Christmas I got one of those male grooming appliances. It’s kind of like an electric razor, only smaller. It’s designed so men can keep themselves at their metrosexual sleekest. It can be used to trim moustaches, beards, sideburns, etc., (none of which I have). The instructions state it can also be used to manage the man forest.  Well, now …

One thing the instructions do not tell you is that, used incorrectly (and FYI, this is painfully easy to do) it is also capable of removing several layers of skin. Skin that is very delicate, very sensitive and very rich with blood vessels. And you know how, when you cut your finger, your first reaction is to stick the wounded appendage in your mouth? Not an option here. And not only is that not going to work, just trying will very likely add back strain to your litany of embarrassing injuries. “Well, doc, you’re not gonna believe this …”

Normally, I would not dream of using such an appliance; it gives off too much of a George Michael kind of vibe. But if English footballer and unassailably hetero stud David Beckham can go on record as having the smoothest Adidas in the Premier League, then who am I to quibble? Frighteningly, I came closer to resembling Lance Armstrong than I did Mr. Posh Spice.

Read the directions, hopped in the shower as suggested and lathered up. If I may use an even clumsier sports metaphor here, let me say that my intent was merely to tidy up the green a bit; accordingly, I very gingerly took hold of the pin to move it out of the way so I could see better, fired up the groomer, and immediately took out a huge, fleshy divot.

Did I mention that I hoped to surprise my wife? Well, it worked. Of course, no one expects to see a band-aid where I had applied one (Note: the only bandages we had in the house were the Hello Kitty models left here by our 5-year old niece).  And pleasant? Well, judging from her peals of laughter, I would judge that it was not altogether traumatic for her.

Like self-inflicted injuries often do, this one made me feel both hurt and stupid. But the unkindest cut (well, perhaps the second) came from the AM/PM medic, who asked if he should stop the bleeding but try to maintain the swelling.

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Getting old beats the alternative? Jury still out 5

I like to say, “Getting old sucks, but it still beats the alternative.” And while that’s mostly true, there’s no denying that getting old … well … kinda sucks.

Speaking of getting older, I just read the other day that in 2010 (which is this year, in case you haven’t been keeping up) one of every four people in the US will be 55 or older.

This is both good and bad. The good side is that people my age will have lots of peers to keep us company; the bad side is that going to the pool may soon require a blindfold. Seriously – – if I want to look at saggy, overweight old folks I have a full-length mirror in my bedroom. Of course it’s been turned to the wall since I turned 45.

You know those funhouse mirrors that distort your image to great comic effect? Don’t need one. Or people who put mirrors above their beds to heighten their erotic appeal? Not for me, thanks. That’s a little too much like sea-lion porn for my taste.

Speaking of mirrors, what sadistic bastard decided that mirrors the size of billboards, combined with operating-room lighting, were a good idea in hotel bathrooms? Last time I stepped out of a hotel bathroom shower and stood in front of one of those enormous mirrors, I screamed like a girl because I thought a walrus or, even scarier, a naked Wilford Brimley (or, scarier still, a naked David Crosby) had snuck in behind me. Turned out to be me. Now I shower with the lights off and my eyes closed.

Parties are different at this stage of life, too. Used to be, I could count on going to a party and meeting some hot chicks. Today when I go to a party, the only hot chicks I’m likely to meet are the host’s kids — or, even more depressingly, their grandkids. And even if I were not chronically married, I would never stand a chance of hooking up with one of these young nubiles. You’ve seen the bumper sticker that says, “No Fat Chicks?” Well, I saw a young woman the other day wearing a t-shirt that said, “No Old Dudes.” You’re probably familiar with the concept of the MILF, but did you ever wonder why you’ve never heard of a GILF? By the way, if you ever have wondered that, you’re a sick puppy and sure hope you wash your hands before you eat.

Another cruel trick nature plays on the aging — about the time my eyes started to go, I started sprouting wiry little black hairs in places I’d prefer not having wiry little black hairs. This makes it hard to see those wiry little black hairs. Those wiry little black hairs are partially to blame — they have a wicked knack for growing where I couldn’t see them, even if I had the eyes of peregrine falcon. Places like the inside of my ears. In the great evolutionary scheme of things, why in the world would a mammal need those wiry little black hairs inside his ears?

If there is a God and I were to meet Him (or Her) and I could ask only three questions, I already know what they’d be. The first would be, “What is the meaning of life (and, God or no God, if He – or She – says, “Monty Python’s best movie,” there’s gonna be an ass-kicking). The second question would be, “So, what were the Kingsmen actually saying?” And the third would be, “What is up with the hairs? I mean, seriously — WTF?”

A setup like this only comes around once in a blue moon 7

Last night, Liz and I went to a party in Travis Heights at the home of a friend of some friends. Late in the evening the host gave some of us a tour of the house, which featured a deck on the roof.

As you know, we had a blue moon on New Year’s Eve, and we were discussing this phenomenon.

Several in our group were curious about the exact nature of a blue moon. Ever the pedant, I was happy to drop science.

“Any time there are two full moons in a month,” I explained, “the second is called a blue moon.”

“Hmm,” one of our party mused. “Is there any significance to a blue moon?”

“Not really,” I said. “It just indicates a second full moon in a month.”

“How often does that happen?” she asked.

What could I say? Mere minutes into the new year, she was handing me a totally sweet setup. For about a nanosecond I wrestled with my inner smartass and, as usual, he won. I almost hated to do it to her, but a setup like this is rare. I paused, letting her question hang just long enough for the group to process it.

“Oh,” I said, “once in a blue moon.”

And I wonder why I don’t get invited to more parties.

If it quacks like a duck, it might be an anti-aging doctor 2

The American Medical Association took a bold step recently and came out against anti-aging hormones. Apparently their beef with the stuff is that they don’t actually, ya know, work.

At their annual confab in Chicago on Monday, AMA delegates took a break from golf and adopted a new policy on products such as human growth hormone (HGH), testosterone and other hormones that are often used as aging remedies.

The AMA claims that hormones are not just ineffective in battling Father Time — some of them are actually dangerous. For instance, the AMA says evidence suggests long-term use of HGH can present more risks than benefits. Risks include diabetes and swelling, the AMA said.

I don’t know about that, but I speak from experience when I say that high levels of testosterone are dangerous. For those of you who skipped junior high biology (or who went to school in Oklahoma) testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It’s the stuff that gives men deep voices, beards, and a deep-seated love of breaking things.

Testosterone was directly responsible for getting the snot slapped out of me more than once in high school. I also blame it for the acute case of tennis elbow I developed my senior year — this, despite the fact I never once picked up a racket. And while it never caused diabetes, I can definitely speak to the swelling.

The timing of this news is interesting, because I just saw a website for a doctor who claims that a regimen of bio-identical hormones can stop — or at least slow — the ravages of time.

That’s good, because one effect of aging is a decline in the production of testosterone. This condition is known as andropause and it can lead to loss of energy, depression, and buying a Harley.

The doctor’s site even had an online interactive test to see if you might be low on testosterone. When you click the link, it takes you to the official Scarlett Johansson website. According to the good doctor, if you can look at the site and then stand up without fainting, you’re a couple of quarts low.

“Hide your glasses, Sunshine – the Viagra’s kickin’ in!” 3

I read a news story the other day that claimed that the same generation that had ushered in the sexual revolution is about to have its way with senior sex.

As they said in that movie: “Be afraid – be very afraid.”

The story was about a program on aging and sexuality in sunny Orlando, Florida. Great – like the mental image of old, naked and sweaty wasn’t bad enough, now you can add to that list the adjective “sun-damaged.” You know, leather may be sexy in some situations, but not when it’s hanging in folds from your paramour’s bones.

The doctor who led the program said, “Attitudes about sex among seniors are changing as the baby boom generation comes along. They want more information about staying sexually active as they get older.” Here’s some information, fellow boomers: keep your eyes closed. And speaking of mental images, here’s a couple of helpful words for you guys: Salma Hayek.

One couple attending the program had been married for 48 years; they said they came to learn new ways to add spark to their relationship. The guy was quoted as saying, “She knows all my tricks by now.” If that’s the case, then she’s probably hip to that Salma Hayek thing, too.

In the song, “My Generation,” Pete Townsend famously wrote, “Hope I die before I get old.” Had he been even half as clever as he thought he was, he would have said, “Hope I die before I have to get naked with an old person.” (Pete, here’s an idea: maybe you could rework the chorus lyrics to say, “Talkin’ ’bout old genitalia.” Just a thought.)

For reasons I probably don’t need to enumerate, most people don’t think of older folks (especially when we’re trying to eat) as sexually active. But research shows that sexual activity occurs in about 73 percent of those aged 57-64, 53 percent of those 65-74, and 26 percent of those 75 and older. The research did not specify if those figures reflect sex with partners; if you toss in that parameter, I bet the numbers go down. Way down.

The article said that Boomers are less likely to accept and internalize society’s view of asexual seniors. The organizer said,  “One of the problems is that there are few role models of elderly sexuality. There aren’t a lot of media portrayals of sexually active seniors.”

To that, one can say only, thank heaven for small graces. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to see portrayals of sexually active seniors. “Sexually active” usually implies nudity (as I recall) and that’s a sight I can live without — glasses or no glasses.

Even in death, Boomers refuse to STFU 1

We Boomers have been accused – and rightfully so, perhaps – of being the “Me Generation.” We love to reminisce about how we had the best music, the best drugs … and don’t even get me started on condom-free sex. The tag “Me Generation” is apparently shorthand for “It’s All About Me Generation.”

But if anyone is hoping things might change once all us gray-beards have died off, I have some bad news for you.

Today, a whole slew of new companies are offering services – such as virtual cemeteries and automated e-mails that remind people of the anniversary of our passing – that allow us to continue to inflict ourselves upon the world long after we’ve cached the last bowl and gone to that big drum circle in the sky.

You think “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” goes on forever? Just wait.

One example is a company based in L.A. (surprise, surprise) that offers a variety of scenic virtual locations for a person’s final e-resting place: A “Zen Garden,” a “Lake View,” a “Tropical Valley” and other options. Once there, visitors can purchase virtual items to leave behind – things that were significant to the dearly departed, such as a baseball glove, or a saddle, or maybe a lava lamp.

Many Boomers have taken to online social media in a big way. Not only do Facebook, Twitter and their ilk provide a plausible cover for spending hours surfing for porn, they have also helped make Boomers receptive to these online post-mortem services. As a result, Boomer funerals are no longer the end of the show – they mean we’re just taking a little break and we’ll be right back for the second set.

What all of this means is that it is now conceivable that you may never stop hearing about how your favorite auntie saw the Beatles! Three times! Yes – THREE! Or how the fat, bald dude next door dropped acid with Wavy Gravy at Woodstock, and caught the clap from Janis Joplin. Or maybe he dosed with Janis and caught a dose from Wavy. The details are as hazy as he is enthusiastic.

Death used to mark the end. With luck, that might mean the end of hearing someone your grandfather’s age (or maybe even your grandfather himself) drone on about the summer he and his “old lady” Breeze followed the Dead around the country in a VW microbus. In reality, what it really means is you’ll be hearing that story more times than you’ve heard “Stairway to Heaven.” And enjoying it just about as much.