Fifty Strands of Grey

I guess I should be happy that I didn’t inherit my maternal grandfather’s follicular genes. For the nearly 20 years that I knew him, his pate was always as hairless and shiny as a brass doorknob.

Ever the joker, he would quip, “It’s better to have no hair than to be bald.” Not really sure of the difference, I would prefer to be spared either option. Which is why I am forever grateful that the chromosomal coin-toss that is meiosis weeded out this unfortunate trait before it reached me.

My cousin, like his father before him, is less fortunate than I in this respect. Although he is just a few months older than me, he is already well on the road to hairlessness, his forehead having set out in his teens on a quest to merge with his nape. Meanwhile I, albeit likewise almost pushing the half-century, still have a full head – even though there are doubts about the fullness of the inside thereof.

Sport has likewise helped me avoid the ravages of ageing thus far. For the most part, at least. So although I have wrinkles around my eyes, my skin has lost its youthful elasticity and I may probably never again run a sub-90-minute half marathon, I am generally considered far younger than my two score and nine summers. Even Wii Fit thinks I’m 35, an error I am loathe to disabuse it of.

That may all be about to change.

For some months now, I have observed with growing consternation the gradual appearance of white in my thankfully blond hair. First I discovered the slight peppering of my slightly darker stubble on occasions when I hadn’t shaved for a few days. Then I noticed the odd white strand on my head.

Yet that was all but a prelude, an early warning, an amuse-gueule, a taste of things to come. And come they have.

Standing naked in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my damp hair this morning, as I do every day after my shower, I was appalled to find a veritable splash of grey above my right ear; a silver skunk stripe that contrasted starkly with its neighbouring locks in a way reminiscent of Lily Munster or Johnny Depp’s Sweeney Todd.

Coming to a marathon near you?
This presents me with a problem, for no longer can my encroaching senescence be concealed by bravado, childish humour and athletic prowess. I am – undeniably – growing old. What then do I do?

My wife was quick to proffer a solution, one she has been using with great success for some time: highlights. My mother has been dying her hair for decades. And her mother – tellingly the wife of the aforementioned “hairless” ancestor  – always had perfectly dark brown hair until the day she had a stroke and nursing staff no longer dyed it, whereupon she went completely white seemingly overnight.

But colouration is for women in my view, an avenue I don’t see myself ever going down. That means I have no choice but to embrace the inevitable. Though I shall start by heading down to the hairdresser tomorrow in the hope that some selective snipping can provide at least temporary respite from the inevitable ravages of time.

Alternatively, I could ask Nike if they’ll pay me for the swoosh stripe I am clearly now carrying around on my head. Who knows, I might even try to grow three white stripes on the other side and get sponsored by Adidas too.

And if all else fails, I could always audition for the next Bride of Frankenstein film.

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