Monday, October 1, 2012

Growing Old Without Underwear

Palm Springs can be hot a great deal of the time. That’s why I love it there. There’s also a freedom of thought and expression that extends far beyond Palm Springs proper. It can be found in Idyllwild, the artist community high in the San Jacinto mountains, among the hermits, musicians and malcontents of Joshua Tree and over on the coast to the seaside poets and bums of Laguna Beach.

This freedom of expression can be found in the visual renderings of imaginative minds, the music of dreamers, the mauling of vernacular vestiges in the name of art and the casual clothing found most everywhere. It’s a casualness I’ve embraced much to the chagrin of some others.

Each morning during the winter months, I put on my swimming suit or a pair of shorts with mesh inside, my flip-flops, a t-shirt and I’m set to go. On chilly mornings, I’ll wear a fleece until it warms up.

If I have to go out in public, a clean t-shirt will suffice. For more formal affairs like dinner or events, I will acquiesce and don more semi-casual attire. It works for me. It fits my lifestyle in the desert.

I don’t shave everyday. It takes about two to three days for some semblance of a shadow to appear on my face. Most of it is gray so it’s practically invisible at first anyway. Until the back of my head starts to resemble the great waves on the North Shore of Hawaii, I don’t think I need a haircut.

It’s been suggested, more than once, that perhaps early senility has set in or as someone close to me likes to say, “I’m losing it.”

Am I the only male that thinks shaving every day and wearing underwear are two grooming rituals that can be ignored every once in a while assuming the environment is as I’ve described it? My gay friends need not answer that question.

Or do I have to acquiesce to the proper rituals of male grooming that the other half thinks is so important? In a nutshell, if I’m working at home in my office and not in public, do I have to shave and wear underwear just because it’s the proper thing to do?

I have a middle-age friend who loves to bring his male friends up to his mountain cabin a couple of times a year for a ‘guy’s weekend.’

They have water balloon fights, fly kites off the mountainside, ride Mountain bikes recklessly through the woods, and in short, act like kids for the weekend. Is this stupid or just men being men?

Women would say one thing. Men could defensively say another.

Perhaps we’re talking about the idiosyncrasies of old men or just men in general. I mean,
what is a man cave other than a modern refuse for men to hide from women and just be themselves (or as women would say, just be stupid)

But not all of us see it that way.

Women have a plethora of concerns for their husbands, partners and significant others as the aging process becomes more apparent. The list can go on and on.

Women worry about their men getting old and acting it. They fret about them not shaving every day. Not getting a haircut when it’s needed (their determination, not his) Not dressing appropriately in public or semi-public for that matter. They worry about their man’s personal hygiene.

For those more insightful women, they worry about their man not having a lot of male friends. Not to mention a myriad of other complaints from a lack of interest in anything remotely akin to her interests to just plain old boredom. Women seem to think they handle aging better than men. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

A lot of my blogs deal with or at least edge alongside the concept of growing old. I like to ponder what it means to get old. And I often wonder if I’m kidding myself with my interest in popular music, new adventure travels, living abroad, athletic endeavors, getting more involved in my grandchildren’s lives and a myriad of other activities usually left for the younger set.

Is it the Peter Pan syndrome raising its young head again? Or something more ominous such as denial of the inevitable aging process? Are sore muscles and stiffness the inevitable results of a life well lived or simply a lack of exercise and activities? Am I kidding myself when I say you’re never too old to grow young again? And don’t fade slowly into the dark. Instead leap boldly into the brightness until it burns you up.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that this whole writing thing of mine is a culmination of many goals and desires first initiated during my lost years. It’s spawned a desire to re- connect with old friends, revisit and examine my past and to do so while focusing on my future and adjusting for the reality of my life as it is.

From “Snow White and the Seven Seekers” to “Looking for Susan’s House” to “In the Company of Old Men,” this vision quest has become an important part of my life and I’m not about to let it go.

This attitude or delusional meanderings of mine seem to have struck a cord with a lot of folks who read my blogs. So either my readers find something of interest here or they’re just curious what my problems are? Or maybe they simply like to look at the old pictures I post?

The fact is I don’t want to grow up if it means looking and ending up like a lot of the old men around me.

The whole point is of my argument is this:

So what if I wear those shorts with no underwear? So what if I don’t shave everyday? So what if I continue to listen to classical music (meaning music of the 50s and 60s) while still opening myself up to newer forms of musical entertainment?

I would argue that as long as I’m staying involved and active and using my mind every-day for something other than mindless chatter at the coffee shop or listening to talk radio or feeling sorry for myself, it’s time well spent.

For a lot of folks my age, long range planning means “What’s for dinner?” I’d like to think that I can see a little further out than that.

So with my clothing or lack thereof, I’d like to believe that I’m not letting go. I’m not falling apart but simply focusing on other things of greater importance in this world in which I’ve chosen to live. Welcome to my world, it’s nice in here… it really is!

Despite the challenges of old age and calcified ambitions that sometimes have to be pried loose from the rigid assumptions of past generations, I intend to continue this quest of mine to discover, examine and write about whatever it is that interests me.

And wear my Southern California attitude whether in Minnesota or Colorado.

With or without underwear.

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