Chris Jepson: 50 Shades of Grey

Chris Jepson

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Sex. Ha! Made you look. Humans live for sex. Literally and metaphorically. I think you’d have to be dead or nearly so to have no interest in sex. That may not even be entirely true if necrophilia is to be believed. Even the dead participate, willingly. Well, that’s a stretch. I’ve even seen zombie movies about sexual attraction but it was, shall we say, merely rebound zombie sex. Is there sex after death? Well, as the song suggests, “In heaven they have no beer that’s why we . . .”

No, this column is not about sex, it’s about aging. I was sprucing up recently for a party and noticed my first gray hair. In my nose. Oh, the indignity of it all. Gray nose hairs. I unceremoniously, eyes watering, plucked it out. As if that will stem the tide. I’ve been going gray hair-wise for 10 years, but since I hit age 65, all of me is fading to gray. Sigh.

Actually, that is too strong a characterization, the fading part. I’ve never been a reluctant participant in life. A shrinking violet. Ask me (or not) and I’ll give you my two cents. And then some. It’s the luster that inevitably leaves one, the effervescent shine that fizzles slowly away. That great Hollywood mind Gwyneth Paltrow summed it up so succinctly, “Beauty fades! I just turned 29, so I probably don’t have that many good years left in me.” Horrors! Yet, I’m of the generation who coined, “Over the Hill at 30.”

Women seriously argue that aging is much harder on “them” than it is for men. There’s a nuance at play here. It’s about what constitutes beauty, when you have it and how gracefully you transition from youthful beauty to embracing the homily, “Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”

No, aging can be as unsettling for men as it is for women. Granted, there has always (and I mean always) been a premium on female beauty (See: Marlowe, “Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships 
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium? 
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”) True, the physical equivalent for men — handsomeness — has never been the premium beauty bestows upon women. But diminishment is not strictly confined to the metaphorical fading of the flower, nor is it any less a disappointment for men.

Why, I remember a time when I could work physically hard all day, shower and party to the wee hours. Now, it’s but four or five hours of heavy lifting, shower, a nap, and then party to the wee hours. Did I mention, nap? Alas, I am not the man I was at age 30.

But it’s more than that. My face, I fear for my face. Some people are sinkers and some are saggers (skin tone), it turns out I’m both a sinker and a sagger. I’ve watched as slight creases have formed into deep craters at the corners of my mouth and I wonder, just what is the point of that? I’m afraid to share the following with my younger readers for fear of frightening them. Kids: As you age you get ear hairs and graying nose hairs and behind the ear cheese unfit for consumption or anything else.

Fortunately, my mind remains sharp, all the better, I tell myself, to remember what once was. Hmmm? What was it I said humans live for? Haha!