Be Cool With The Gray, Ragazzi

I FOUND MY FIRST GRAY HAIR AT 29

Under meticulous scrutiny. 

In the brilliant, unforgiving lighting of my bathroom mirror.

The horror.

The indignity. 

The shame.

My world had ended.

TO A PRACTICING RECOVERING NARCISSIST

Vanity conquers modesty every time.

Except – one miraculous day of self-reckoning and acceptance – it didn’t.

I was morphing into the mire of Achromaticdom.

Boastful ownership championed over prolonged mourning and grief.

BURYING ONE’S YOUTHFUL PRIDE WITHOUT A WAKE

Is a somber, begrudging affair for the incurably vain.

A slow, numbing grind into the Abyss of a new reality – safe passage into pre-Middle Age – certified.

The once nascent, solitary Gray Count remained at exactly one … defiant, ubiquitous, irreverent … damned gray strand.

Until I hit fortyish.

Okay, way deep into my thirties if I’m being audited for truth.

A good ten plus year run to be fair.

FUN FACT CONFESSION #1

I was married at 31-½ years old.

Sporting the promise of a mild Costneresque recede to come.

Kids were a few years away.

In great good enough gym shape.

The Dad Bod hadn’t crept up on me.

Not that I’d have noticed then.

So, I had permission to gray away.

My gifted concession to Father Time.

You’re welcome.

THE TEMPLE OF MEDIOCRITY WAS SAFE

Until The Door Kicked-My-Ass-On-The-Way To Narcissists Anonymous.

I stopped obsessing over fate.

Momentarily content to ignore the obvious:

“The infinite stray grays popping up like cultured alfalfa sprouts gone viral in a fortified petri dish, were now my allies.”

As a bonus, I accomplished this in a deftly concerted, cordially aloof and dismissive manner.

All self-derisive like.

A not-quite-so-endearing tendency I have whenever things don’t go my way.

Things rarely go my way, which makes me a Cordially Aloof Dismissive Derisive type.

Right.

AN UNNECESSARY CRITICAL DIGRESSION

About odd parallels of shared deniability between a Man and His Dog, and that of The Same Vain Guy Going Gray:

Like the first time my fabulous little tenacious pooch – Raffi – took an unscheduled second dump on his (almost never) daily walk.

After I’d already used the scented poop bag – securely double-knotted to detract canine feces thieves and lock in the savoury waft of Shih Tzu Sh!t.

Because this is what I do.

I stared down at His Impossible Cuteness.

My boy shrugged. 

I swear Raffi smirked – I know he did – in his supremely knowing way.

Suggesting his Double-Deuce-of-the-Day – we blame – on the fat ginger tabby watching us from her perch in the window.

Guilty.

Raffi depositing his last Ef-of-the-day – steaming in a jacked-up tootsie roll – on my dink neighbor’s lawn.

We did what every codependent partners-in-crime, guilty of victimless, cowardly crimes do.

We feigned invisible – escaped the crime scene never to return – then laughed our asses off about it later over a Stella and snausages on the patio.

BACK TO MY MYOPIC VISION AND …

The singular benefit of near-sighted astigmatism. 

It’s the best friend of vanity.

I tend to wear non-prescription beer goggles when it comes to self scrutiny.

I’m good like that.

THE SCOURGE OF THE VAIN & THE DAMNED

My Sugar Momma Enablers:

The mirror always lies, but I don’t listen.  Jimmy Crack Corn.

The scale’s conveniently broken, when I’m three six pounds heavier after the holidays.

When I feign coinless, passing the Salvation Army Santa Claus.

I DIDN’T ALWAYS APPRECIATE

The inherent beauty of aging gracefully however obvious.

Not when deniability was my well-paid accomplice.

Even with irrefutable proof tapping me on the forehead like a slow, ice water drip between the eyebrows.

Deferring annoyance at self, aside, ignorance is my favorite co-conspirator of shallow character traits.

It makes life momentary blissful.

Less worrisome.

Yes, denial has its privileges.

A QUARTER-OF-A-CENTURY LATER

Infinite, stubborn little, gray bastards show up – uninvited – at the party. 

Culling in a bunch of their free-loading – good-for-nothing – friends, to crash.

And, never left.

Taking root – my puns are always intentional – in a sprawl of feathery white, platinum, and silver striations, across the temples.

I welcomed every bloody one.

THEY WERE MY GRAY’S

No one else’s – I owned them – I earned them.

Translation: A weak attempt reeking of desperation and futility at claiming my rightful passage in life.

Akin to the never imperceptible crow’s feet and smile/frown lines we pretend to loathe, while secretly resonating with pride.

We’ve made it!

No one gives a dump.

Except Raffi.

MY BEARD (*)

I don’t have one, probably never will.

Except, sort of, not really … this one time, I was bored and lazy last winter.

Or, unless I’m marooned on an unchartered desert island.

It would be predictably toned in a salty variant.

Short on sophistication.

Long on meh.

Save for the whiskers above the lip, which do their own peppery thing.

The last hold-outs.

Defiant buggers.

MY BARBER

A Southern Italian charmer, radiates in a striking, cool white pompadour of relaxed waves.

He’s not one to endorse hair color treatments – passing on a reasonable monthly stipend of over-priced chemical pigments – to aid the farce.

I’ve shunned any thought of “painting” my hair some obtrusive tone of chestnut brown – my natural color.

FUN FACT CONFESSION #2

Yes, I consulted a hair color dye chart on-line for best match choices.

Evidently, my Castagno-hued locks are the most nomadic, lingering in the mid to darkish tonality range.

I’m a brunette, okay.

Or, sculpting in a dark monotone death color – Darth Vader Ink black on the cusp of blue!

And, not succumbing to the popular grooming products engineered to neuter one’s scalp a non-color, and temporarily reduce grays.

EGO + DELUSION = GIVE IT UP + GET OVER IT

The myth of dying one’s hair jet black to look younger in middle-age … must die. 

Here and now.

Nope. 

It’s just wrong, boys.

Okay, if you’re repurposed ’80s Glam Rock Star or A-List Hollywood Actor … 

It’s Still Wrong.

MY GRAYS

Are threaded with equal disaccord throughout my coif. 

Most are nonconformists – like me – disorderly and misbehaving.

Concentrated at the temples, in a natural fade the envy of a well-groomed Schnauzer.

Reclusive are the majority, whenever I grow my hair out (habitually past due its recommended monthly trim).

Rapturous, lacking restraint, and expectedly delinquent, when freshly cropped above the ears.

MY 50’S

Age-appropriate – the way it was meant – what I’m told. 

Women exclusively make this claim.

If the women in my life say they like it, I usually follow.

This is the accepted order of my nature, the Universe, and the three smart life choices I’ve ever made.

I’m predicting, not quite hoping, but getting there, for Silver Fox status at seventy.

In no ways do I wish I’d go full on Anderson Cooper before fate takes me there.

THE GOAL FOR EVERY BREATHING MAN?

Clooneyed. 

Clooney up.

Go Clooney.

You get it.

George, as if there was some confusion.

I could end my diatribe with Mr. Ocean.

He’s mastered the perfect formula for hedonistic salt and pepper mixture.

We’re talking Cooper and Clooney.

They’re big deals.

I’m not.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MEH

Graying is cool at any age. 

So, own the Grigio, Ragazzi. 

Love it to death!

THE GOOD

Truth is Sexy.

So is confidence.

I’ve never heard one woman say she doesn’t think a man with a little (or a lot) of gray is unattractive.

That is, if he’s attractive to start.

Read the fine print. 

In between the lines.

The subtext.

YOU KNOW THE DRILL

Better with age.

Like fine wine.

Good whiskey.

Vintage cars.

Vinyl albums.

Poor memory.

Love.

THE BAD

Haters Will Get Their Hate On.

Hell.  No.

A Hard No.

While graying with dignity may do nothing to save the couch-surfing, dad-bodied Dinks …

If you’re still Rocking in the Free World with squid ink-dyed Hair Skirts from the 90’s.

There’s meds and therapy for that.

Ditto, for those Douchey Dudelers wrapping the wiry remains of a thinning, barely there mullet – a side comb-over, restrained into a ponytail.

As a Public Service Act of Mercy for all that is Holy and Sacred:

Give it up.

THE MEH

Don’t sweat it. 

Stand down and don’t obstruct nature when its telling you to go with it.

Graying with confidence is a Distinguished Gentleman at his best.

THE COOLEST DOZEN (+2) GRAY DUDES ON THE PLANET

For inspirational proof (in near order of randomness):

  1. George Clooney
  2. Jeff Bridges
  3. Keith Richards
  4. Pierce Brosnan
  5. Harvey Keitel
  6. Steve Martin
  7. Alec Baldwin
  8. Sam Elliott
  9. Sean Penn
  10. Benecio Del Toro
  11. Anderson Cooper
  12. Tommy Lee Jones
  13. Jonathan Goldsmith 
  14. Anthony Bourdain (RIP)

Why’d it take so long?

Exactly what I’m thinking.

Gray Dawn.