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James R. Stout

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            I must be some kind of ugly. At least, it appears that cable advertisers must think so. I’m supposed to get about 150 stations. The vast majority of them are selling products via those infernal “infomercials”. I woke up about 4 a.m. today and couldn’t get back to sleep. So, I turned on the TV and got so depressed that it made me get sleepy. Why so depressed? Because if I am just a tenth as bad off as all those infomercials think that I am, then I belong in a horror movie. Look out Boris, here I come!

            According to these infomercials there’s not a thing about me that appealing, but they have the cure. Let’s start from the top – my hair. It all depends on the advertiser, but I apparently have a whole host of problems with my hair. They have the cure for it all though. No hair? They can grow hair, transplant it, plug it, extend it, basically you name it and they can fix the problem with my hair. Too thin? They’ll fatten up that hair really quick. Hair where you don’t want it? They can get rid of it. They must think that I have hair growing like weeds out of my ears, out of my nose, on my neck, too much on my chest, and I must have mohair on my legs. Never fear! They can zap it, map it, and flap it however I might wish. Eyebrows giving a Russian a run for the money? No problem. Speaking of eyes. I must have the worst vision of any human ever. But they can Lasik or Lasek it. Eyes too dry? They’ll get you fixed-up. Do you need purple eyes? They have purple contacts just for that. Moving down a bit, there’s that nose. What a proboscis! Is my nose too fat? They’ll put it on a diet. Is it too narrow? They’ll fatten it up some. Want to have a ski jump for a nose? Get ready to accommodate the smallest of ski enthusiasts. Lips to narrow? They’ll fluff them right up. Too fat? They’ll take some off and put it somewhere else. (I kid you not) Now we get to the horror or horrors. Crepey skin. It starts with your neck and then can be found just about anywhere on your body. But they have a way to smooth it all out. Ain’t they clever? Too much twaddle? They’ll twiddle that twaddle and take it away in a bottle.

            I think they are confused about my pectoral muscles. I either don’t have any or I’ve got some poorly shaped pecs. Frankly, I don’t think it’s either of those problems, but I won’t go into that. There must be a thousand different ways to lose that gut. Special diets, no dieting with supplements of the right kind, and all kinds of exercise to get back to that perfect weight. They have machines of all kinds, bikes, treadmills, aerobics, walking, running, and various exercises to thin you down. EXCEPT I can’t do all of those things with my arthritis, bad joints, balance issues, and inflamed nerves. But wait, there’s more! They can give you a new knee, new hip, restore the feeling to your numb feet, and fix that pesky sciatica nerve that hurts from your, uh, butt to your foot. Speaking of feet. Bone spurs? They got the answer. It fits in your shoe and before you know it the spur is gone! Toenail fungus? You’d think there are people out there turning into mushrooms the way the advertiser talks about it. And, for crying out loud they just had to show pictures of the feet belonging to the Mushroom People. It’s a serious problem. How do I know? They even made a movie about it back in 1967 called “Attack of The Mushroom People”. Now, I’m not going to go any further with the next rogue part of the human anatomy other than to say that if you got problems (and there must be a whole bunch of problems) “down there”, then they likely can set it right. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

            Now for a bit of serious talk. I’m not making fun of anyone who has physical problems. Hey, I’m 64-years-old and I’ve truly got my share. I’ll just say this. The obsession we seem to have with our looks is just that. An obsession. Obviously, it’s the right thing to do to take a shower or bath daily. You should at least try to have better looking hair than Albert Einstein. At the least, comb it. If putting on make-up for the ladies makes you feel better, then go for it, but try not to get obsessed with the wrinkles to the point that you spend all your money on plastic surgery. Try to keep the weight down, but don’t starve yourself or have dangerous surgery to suck out the fat.

            The truth is God loves you just the way you are and I’m betting that the important people in your life feel the same way. Let’s face it. If we are to grow old, and that is a wish that we should all have, then our bodies are going to change. It’s ok. No, I don’t have the body that I had 40 years ago. But I’d like to think that I have gained wisdom while my body aged. And, if we are on the right path to wisdom, then we should know that it is our hearts and our minds that matter the most. So, what if I have some “crepey” skin. I earned the heck out of it. That extra weight? It’s more of me to love! But not too much. I’m fortunate to have all of my hair. But if you’re bald, that’s ok too. You might not have crepey skin like I do. If you ever meet someone that appears to be perfect, think again. Even when I was 20-years-old, in the best shape of my life, had flawless skin, and was way too “sexy for my shirt”, I was on the road to where I am now. That’s life.

            I went to a high school class reunion a couple of months ago. None of us looked like we did when we were 18 or 38 or even 50. But there’s something that happens to most of us as we age. At least, it has for me. When I see a young attractive woman today, I see my daughter. I find women my age more attractive. Why? Part of it is because they have been through many of the same trials and tribulations that I have and that’s something we can understand about each other. Also, I want to be able to talk to a woman who remembers things from long ago that I remember. I don’t want to try to explain what it was like in 1968 or 1975 or 1982 to someone who wasn’t born until 1994. And, there’s something about a woman my age that is very appealing. Maybe it’s a little self-preservation as well. I can’t bring myself to be critical of a woman having for gray hair and wrinkles when I myself have plenty of both. The bottom line is to be happy with who you are and where you are in life. Love someone for the person that they are. Not the person that they once were or could be if they had a bunch of work done on them. I’m not perfect and never will be. I will always do my best with what I’ve got, but I won’t ever be perfect. I’m ok with that if you are.

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