How did I go bald?

Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. It’s been two weeks since my last confession.

The truth is, I’m getting old. Sometimes I’m too tired to blog. I know, I know. There’s nothing you can do about ageing. It’s just a natural process. But what happened to those days when I had more hair on my head than on my back?

My youngest son F asked me this week, ‘Dad, how did you go bald?’

He was in the back of the car, no doubt looking at the deforested head in the driver’s seat.

‘My hair fell out,’ I said.

The answer didn’t seem to satisfy him. I knew what he was really asking – WHY? Like, why is the sky blue, why are there so many stars, why are we here on this lonely little planet hurtling through space at a million miles every half second?

He needed a big answer to a big question. In reality, though, I had no idea why my hair fell out. Sometimes I look for it in random places or call out to it, hoping it will come home. Honestly, though, after all this time I think it really is gone. Why it chose to leave, how I offended it so deeply, I will never know.

I’m trying not to be the grumpy old person I’m creeping toward. I really don’t want to be that guy. But, I feel duped. I know the future will be far from golden and unlikely to feature hoverboards. Then again, I understand the Hollywood mindset. Who would want to buy a ticket to watch a real future: one of memory loss, incontinence and unhappy nursing home staff with mops and buckets?

I think old age is just a consolation prize. I know you’re not supposed to say that. I’m here, so I should just stop whingeing, right?

My eldest son, J, told me they’re making another Star Wars film. It’s either a prequel to the sequel or a sequel to the prequel. Anyway, it features all the old cast members, even the guy who played Chewbacca. They reckon Chewy looks exactly the same as in the original films too, he’s just got a few more grey hairs.

One thing I know without doubt: those actors may all have false teeth, adult nappies and unwanted hair in unwanted places, but they will be beautiful for the screen. The Force will be strong in them (except for Han Solo who was always a bit of a skeptic) and they will save the day. Sure that stuff happened a long time ago (not in the future), in a galaxy far, far away, but what I’m saying is movie props won’t save you from the decline that comes with ageing.

The Force would whimper, shrivel up and die in the face of the The Ageing. To paraphrase Obi-Wan KenobiThe Ageing is what takes away a Jedi’s power. It’s an anti-energy field that makes you want to have Nanna naps. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It takes away our hair.”

Manliness

Paul Kelly sang about doing all the dumb things, but I bet I could beat him any day. If Paul Kelly’s done all the dumb things, I bet I’ve done them twice.

This week, while ‘fixing’ the washers in the shower, I broke the shower head off (nowhere near where the washers were located, mind you, but I didn’t know that at the time). My poor wife, M, had been hassling me to fix those washers for two weeks. The shower dripped incessantly and she’d decided, quite huffily, to sleep on the couch.

My wife spurs me in to action by saying in an exasperated way, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll just get Dad to do it.’ That’s code for, ‘Don’t worry, clearly you’re not a real man. I’ll get my manly dad, who’s twice the man you’ll ever be, to come over and rub your woosie little baby nose in the fact that you can’t even change a washer – the first test of real manhood.’

Of course, it’s all true – what she says and what I hear. But still, I have a right to be offended.

With the shower head broken off and me having bought the wrong tool to unscrew the tap thingy, I was forced to tape up the pipe where the shower head had been. The tape did actually stop the dripping, though. Us not showering for the next three days was inconvenient and an unpleasant, especially for friends and work colleagues.

I can tell you something for free: things always look easier when some guy on You Tube does them. Tradies on You Tube are the most competent you’ll ever see. I wish the blokes who posted the videos lived nearby. I’d invite them to fix my washers while I filmed them for a new You Tube clip.

If I knew someone like that I’d film them mowing the lawn, putting on an extension to our house and panel beating my car and the car of the woman I bumped into this week (my fault, of course).

Having watched the instructional video of the competent washer changing guy on You Tube, I felt sure (almost confident) I could do exactly the same thing. Some days later, watching the video on a 24 hour a day loop and finally purchasing the correct tool, I did successfully change the washers. Our shower no longer drips.

The tap in in the kids’ bathroom is another matter. So far I’ve managed to ignore it.

The lifestyle change

My life has been dedicated to gluttony but now I’d kill just for an apple.

This is day three of the ‘lifestyle change’ (I’m adjusting to the idea that this is not for six weeks, but forever). In short I’m kicking sugar and polyunsaturated fats. I can only have two bits of fruit a day because of fructose (whatever that is). Frigging fructose. This lifestyle change is not quite the caveman diet (that’s the one where you’re only allowed to eat road kill), though it’s getting pretty damn close.

Has anyone ever looked at labeling on processed food? Our food pretty much is sugar, with a few other things thrown in. Even ‘healthy’ and ‘lite’ food is a con. A well known bran that claims to be nothing but (and it’s not quite as tasty as the packaging it comes in) is full of sugar too. For a long, long time I’ve been kidding myself that if I ate those healthy, lite/light foods I could brink beer by the gallon. They always said you were supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day, but I substituted that for a beer – it seemed to fill me up more and made me feel less inclined to worry about healthy lifestyles and such.

Now, cold stone sober (I’m allowed to have two stubbies on Friday night and two stubbies on Saturday night), I can see the gargantuan task set before me in the harsh light of day. It’s Wednesday morning and I’ve already got a frosted glass in the fridge, ready for that lovely amber liquid. I dream of Friday, the day we’ll be reunited, as if beer were my long lost lover. Oh beer, my best friend, my cruelest mistress, how will our relationship survive if we only meet twice a week? Will be drift apart?

On that first day of the lifestyle change, however, it was not the beer I missed (I’m not a bloody alcoholic, you know) but sugar. I was coming home from work, negotiating the tight bends on a dirt road. The car was shuddering, or so I thought. Soon I discovered it was me. I had the sugar DT’s. Two meals without sugar and no snacks in between. (I’m not sure if anyone’s aware, but you can get amazingly cheap chocolate at the supermarket, if you don’t mind eating the discounted stuff.)

I can’t really explain the sugar DT’s, except to say you feel quite hollow – as if your house has burned down, your dog has died and all your most sacred beliefs have suddenly been proven false. All sense of hope is lost when you have the sugar DT’s. I was forced to drink Pepsi Max just to quell them a little. That was like putting a band aid on an amputated limb.

Now, I cling to the hope that all these desperate longings will pass – the sugar DT’s, the beer sweats, the hankering for discounted chocolate – and I will emerge, like a butterfly from its cocoon, into the dawn of a brighter day.

If not a brighter day, at least a thinner one.