Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Tom Jones Years have started early

Several years ago, after seeing Sir Tom Jones for the first time at the fabulous MGM Grand showroom in Las Vegas, I announced that when I hit a certain age I was going to:

1) Dye my hair jet black,

2) Get all my teeth fixed so they looked like crazy white chiclets,

3) Fake tan to the color of mahogany,

4) Wear a girdle if necessary, and most important of all:

5) Insist that this was the way I always looked.

I figured I'd do this when I hit 60, and I would refer to this new phase of my life as the "Tom Jones Years".

Well, the Tom Jones Years have started a little early I think.

This is a busy time of year around our household: my birthday, Father's Day and our wedding anniversary all fall within 7 days, and it's always a time for reflection and celebration. This year I'm really happy about my birthday--I turn 45 soon--and I realize that I'm at the halfway point of my life. Not in the typical mopey middle-aged man sense that the rest of my life is a long slow decline. No. I'm at the halfway point in the sense that I have an entire second life to live now. I get to do what a lot of people never get to--leave one career, voluntarily and with a good pension, and start a second. And this time it doesn't have to be something I just fall into almost as a fluke, like law enforcement was. I get to choose.

MizBubs and I are both making plans for college in the fall; at the same time that our eldest is getting ready to visit 4-year colleges this month in preparation for transferring next year. It's fascinating to realize that we are essentially asking ourselves the same question that our daughters are asking: what do we want to do with our lives?

So, as I look around at this halfway point, I'm pretty damn lucky and pretty damn happy. This time last year I was kind of depressed--I was recovering from having been gutted like a fish, I had just lost a 3 year long union organizing campaign, and beyond the de-whitetrashification of our house and yard, I had no focus or energy.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with The Tom Jones Years? Well, I'll tell you. I was feeling pretty good after a visit to the dentist Monday--he complimented me on the health of my gums and the general whiteness of my teeth. I was looking forward to running this week, and especially to our first camping trip of the season planned for this weekend.

But I was tired of looking in the mirror and seeing this:

I decided that it was time for a change. So, after much consulting with MizBubs and our eldest (the youngest was not on board for this) we stopped at Walgreen's and invested in a box of Clairol nice n' easy gray solution #4 (dark brown.) Our eldest, the beauty wizard, applied the dye and walked me through the process.

As of this morning, I look in the mirror and see this:

Yes, I have become a ridiculous middle-aged man with a dye job. I have not done the tanning, and while my teeth are healthy they are not gleaming white chiclets. There is no girdle in my future. I am going to make more of an effort to sing and dance and be generally more suave, pausing at certain key points to ask myself WWTJD? MizBubs was mildly startled upon waking this morning (I think she was afraid, briefly, that she'd gotten drunk and fallen into bed with an Elvis impersonator) but she seems happy with it. This is what my hair looked like 18 years ago.

And you know what? I'm happy with it.

"There was no point in looking back, fuck no, not today thank you kindly. My heart was filled with joy. I felt like a monster reincarnation of Horatio Alger; a man on the move, and just sick enough to be totally confident."
--H.S. Thompson


Splotchy said...

Tres groovy!

It looks great, but I'm going to have to break the dyejob news gently to MizSplotchy.

She's anxious for my hair to go salt-and-pepper 'cause it holds some kinda appeal for her.

She always uses you as an example of what a handsome head of hair can be.

So how much longer do you have 'til your retirement?

justacoolcat said...

"There is no girdle in my future"
What a shame.

Has a dentist ever been happy? I'll bet TJ's dentist would lecture him on his teeth not being chicklety enough.

Bubs said...

Coolcat, good point.

Splotchy, I always thought it was really cool to have graying hair when I was in my 20's and early 30's. I think people took me more seriously at work as a result. It stops being fun when you hit 40, maintain a reasonable level of fitness, and look 10 years older than you actually are because your hair has turned gray.

I'll probably let it go gray again in a few years after I turn 50. Or in a few months. Who knows...

Johnny Yen said...

Jesus H. Christ! I clicked on the "gutted like a fish" link expecting to read a story-- I figured it was a metaphorical gutting-- and saw quite a wound! What, pray tell, caused that?

I'll never forget the shock of the first time, while getting a haircut, seeing a pile of greying hair in front of me. It was about ten years ago. My barber, who was completely bald, didn't seem to think I should be complaining-- at least I had hair to be grey.

MacGuffin said...

I alway wanted prematurely gray hair, doesn't look like it's gonna happen. Oh well.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I know exactly how you feel about the grey. I went grey at 19 and it was actually pretty cool to be young with grey hair, but after about 100 years of that it gets old.

I think you look rather like a young Joe Strummer now and that my friend is a very good thing. Huzzah!

And you don't need the orange tan, trust me.

justacoolcat said...

Joe Strummer?

More like Ben Stiller.

jin said...




I too was quite surprised when I clicked on the gutted link.
I expected a small photo of some sort.
I think you did that on purpose.
It covered the WHOLE screen.

You're a sadistic fuck, aren't you?
(and don't you dare say 'It takes one to know one'. ;-)

Tenacious S said...

You know, you're the only person over forty to ever dye their hair. I certainly would *never* do a thing like that!

Mob said...

I've started to get a few white stragglers popping up since I've turned thirty. Not gray, mind you, full on fucking spook show fright wig white.

I blame the newly-acquired in-laws.

That's quite a change for you, it looks good.

I've always been puzzled by Tom Jones, though as I've gotten older, say from my 20's when I first became aware of him until now, he's grown on me in some sort of cheesy way to become tolerable.

The younger me couldn't stand him.

Dino aka Katy said...

wow b-day, fathers day and anniversary within 7 days darn that calls for one big party (or 3). Nothing wrong with the dyed hair but I do like the salt and pepper look too

Bubs said...

katy, thanks. We are having kind of an extended party all week.

Mob, I've always liked him for fun value, but having seen him live, and knowing he's in his mid 60's, still has his pipes, and consistently works with younger musicians and chooses new material, really impressed me. He's got longevity and he has the way of a guy who's really, really enjoying himself.

Ten, I know.

Jin, takes one to know one. Thanks.

coolcat, barbara, I still say my celebrity lookalike is Anthony Bourdain, but he's got brown eyes.

Macguffin, the premature part was fine. It just got boring after 15 years.

Johnny, I had a similar barber shop moment. Sorry about the picture (I've become like a virtual LBJ, showing off my scars) it was from the emergency surgery I had to remove scar tissue that had closed around and pinched shut my small intestine. The recovery from that led to my starting a blog.

Dale said...

Why why why Bubs-lilah?

Beth said...

Looking good, Bubs! As your elder (I'm 48), I have to tell you that I feel sexier and get more attention now than I did ten years ago. You're gonna have fun on this side of forty!

kim said...

I just didn't think you were a

So, I can offer up any kind of styling product you want. Mr. Yen uses dial soap on his hair; so I'm just itchin' to share the secrets of Aveda with you.

jewgirl said...

ya look fantastic, dahlink. what an inspiring post. love it!

Bubs said...

J.G. bless your sweet heart!

Kim, MizBubs used to use Aveda stuff a few years ago. I'll have to ask her why she stopped. I think living in a house full of wimmins has made me more aware of grooming.

Beth, good for you, I'm glad to hear that! I'm feeling pretty good right now.

Dale, the question is not "why" it's "why the hell NOT?"

Grant Miller said...

You are the bravest man I know. From someone who is going gray at an alarming rate and who comes from a family of early grays, I will look to you for inspiration.