Festival Fashion for the Rocker of a Certain Age 1

As I was walking out the door to go to my first rock concert decades ago, my father interrogated me about my attire (for the record, a button-down Oxford cloth shirt and a pair of Levi’s.). He asked why, if I was going to a concert, was I not wearing a jacket and tie? When I told him that no one would be dressed like that, he assured me that “the Jefferson Airplanes will all be wearing jackets and ties.” (For the record, they were not.)


In the race with Father Time, it’s nip and tuck for some guys 6

Guys, has this ever happened to you? You’re having a nice, hot shower, flexing your best Mick Jagger chops (or your best Lady Gaga chops – I’m not judging). You step out of the shower, wipe the steam off the mirror – and there’s some creepy old dude staring back at you!

Before you reach for the phone – or a gun – reach for your glasses. That creep is probably you.

Sad but true. Father Time is having his way with us guys, making us look older than we feel. And this very thing is driving a record number of American men to opt for plastic surgery.

I read a great article the other day about the increasing number of men who are undergoing plastic surgery in an attempt to look younger. An example cited was a software engineer from California (I know, right?) named Joe.

When he was in his 50s, Joe said, he felt “young and powerful.” But when he looked in the mirror, he saw a worn-out person.

Deep wrinkles lined his face, he said. His brow drooped. He had permanent bags under his eyes. The skin under his chin sagged. Joe knew what he wanted: he wanted to not look like Benicio Del Toro.

For the record, I share most of these same characteristics, yet no one ever tells me I look like Señor Del Toro; in fact, the few times I’ve been compared to a celebrity, it’s been to Droopy Dog.

At any rate, Joe is part of a trend — a small trend to be sure, but one that is being eagerly followed by the nip-and-tuck industry — of men who are opting to go under the knife to tweak their looks.

According to this article, American men had 1.2 million cosmetic procedures performed last year. Even factoring out Michael Jackson, that’s still a shit-load of surgery.

And although cosmetic surgery – for either sex – is becoming more commonplace, it’s not without its drawbacks. For men, a little too much lift and we look like we’re standing in a wind tunnel, or piloting an airboat through the Everglades. And it can be worse for the ladies; for example, I work with a woman who has had her face lifted so many times that she’s now sporting a goatee.

A surgeon quoted in the piece said that men have historically had a more positive body image than women – maybe because we don’t grow up with women trying to peek down our shirts. Plus, according to a psychologist cited in the article, men traditionally worry more about how our bodies perform than how they look. So, in other words, where us older guys once had one thing to worry about, now we have two.

Calling cosmetic surgery part of the “normal aging process” is telling, I think. For me, the normal aging process has less to do with surgery and more to do with buying baggy clothes, turning all our full-length mirrors to the wall, and wearing a wetsuit when I go to the pool.

Boomers: If you hope to die before you get old, time’s running out 8

Bob Dylan did a song on his Time Out of Mind album called “Not Dark Yet.” If my fellow Baby Boomers were to write a song about themselves, they might title it “Not Old Yet (Dammit).”

I read an article the other day (once I finally located my reading glasses) about a recent poll that suggests that most of my Boomer cohort don’t consider themselves old. In their eyes, we may not be exactly young, but at the very worst we’re middle aged. Of course, the eyes are the first to go.

The results of the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll beg the question, “What is old?” Younger adults – those younger than Boomers – call 60 the start of old age. But Boomers are pushing that number back. The median age cited by those polled is 70. And a quarter of them insist you’re not old until you’re 80.

For men, there’s this little indicator: middle age is the first time you can’t do it the second time; old age is the second time you can’t do it the first time.

The poll showed that, overall, we Boomers are upbeat about our futures. We’re more likely to be excited about the positive aspects of aging, such as retirement, than worried about the negatives, like illness, death, and having sex with people who are just as old as us.

Sixteen percent of respondents reported being happy about aging. Speaking for myself, I’m happy as a clam to be aging. As a wise man once said, getting old may suck but it beats the hell out of the alternative.

Despite being generally upbeat about getting older, some Boomers are still taking steps to look younger. Some dye their hair, while others take up an exercise regimen. For me, this first option is too expensive, and the second is too much work. So I’ve taken the cheap and lazy option – I just hang around with Keith Richards as much as possible. Compared to him I look like Justin Beiber.

Another surprise: about half predict a better quality of life for themselves than their parents experienced. Add me to this group; my life is a hell of a lot better than my folks’ – largely because I didn’t have to raise a kid like me.

Of course, the outlook isn’t all rosy, and Boomers do have some serious worries. The top three mentioned included losing their independence, losing their memory, and … uh … well, it’ll come to me.

A quarter of the women polled had paid more than $25 for an anti-aging skincare product, such as a lotion or night cream, while just 5 percent of the men admit to such purchases. I’ve never spent a penny on anti-aging measures, but I will admit to pulling my ponytail back really, really tight in hopes of ironing out my facial wrinkles. I gave it up when I realized it didn’t make me look younger – it just made me look like Steven Segal with gas pains.

Boomers most frequently offered the wisdom accumulated over their lives as the best thing about aging. Sure, that’s great, but for me the real joy comes from finally being able to say, “Why, when I was your age … . “