Where Have All the Follicles Gone

These comments are directed primarily towards the males in the crowd. I can’t quite imagine my daughters ever having the need for the information I am about to share. In fact, up to a few years ago, I thought I would never have a need for this information and felt a little sorry for those that so obviously did. For those of you on the young side, yes you, my son, this subject is one of those which may be dismissed as pure nonsense. Then, when 50 arrives, you may find yourself in full agreement with the rest of this story.

This is a very short tale about hair – hair that comes and goes and winds up in the most unusual of places, hair that defines a math problem, hair that for some reason outlives its usefulness as we approach our twilight years and hair that seems to mysteriously disappear, leaving no trail behind. The re-arranging of a man’s hair is quite the mysterious process. I assume God decided we needed hair on our heads to keep us warm in the winter and give our hands a place to go when frustrated. We needed facial hair so we could look silly in high school pretending that the stubble was actually leading to something. Later in life, we could shape the facial hair into all kinds of weird shapes that we somehow convinced ourselves made us look cool. Facial hair is particularly useful when we hit the mid-40s crisis and we need to do something to make ourselves feel 20 again. The hair transformation is slow and, if I were of the math geek persuasion, I am sure could be clearly defined by a math formula. It has been a few years, but I believe there is a direct correlation to the loss of hair on the head and the gain of hair in the nose.

For some odd reason the nose hair tends to grow at half the rate, but twice as dense as the hair loss occurring on top. Since I have never see my hair actually fall out, I have the feeling that it actually recedes from the head, circles the brain and finds its way to the nose and whatever other openings it might find along the way. Here it continues to recede until we have full time nose tickling going on and a bit of nose hair dangling at levels quite a bit lower than most would consider fashionable. So now I am faced with the morning nose inspection for unwanted hair and the monthly review of the top of my head for additional bare spots. Unfortunately, I must also have unusually large pores on the tip of my nose and the middle of my forehead. Inevitably, some hair gets lost on the way to the nose and shoots out these openings. The misdirected hair requires some timely snipping for fear of unwanted stares. To date, I have not personally witnessed the out the ear experience I have seen on some. My guess is this is an issue for those with larger brains which directs the hair east and west rather than only south. While I have been called big headed, I don’t think it ever referred to my brain size. It is also not clear what is socially acceptable upon seeing someone with hair sticking out their ears. Do you let someone know that hair has taken up residence where it really does not belong or do you let the unsuspecting male find these unwanted situations on their own?

Further substantiating the mathematical equation between the loss of top hair and an increase in the amount of nose hair is the fact that when I have a cold the rate of loss on top seems to accelerate. I think we are now moving away from math into physics, but nonetheless, the force of a sneeze seems to accelerate the hair recession and adds to the hair clogging occurring within the nasal cavity. The runny nose part only adds to the total yuck factor involved in nose hair snipping. Resolving this issue is a very private matter.

The top of the head hair loss leads to issues of its own. Do you comb over, leave the head bare, or let it fall where it may. I have not quite reached this point as of yet, but I soon will need to decide. A poor comb over looks more than a little silly, while the shaved head look requires guts and a reasonably shaped head – something I was not blessed with. My guess is I will just let it recede and see what happens. I am not sure if any of the identified courses of action lead to a favorable result.

Mission Impossible – Snoring All The Way

One of my favorite TV shows, oh so many years ago, was Mission Impossible. Long before Tom Cruise was accepting impossible missions, there was a weekly TV show with self-destructing tapes defining missions needing to be done in secret. The premise of the show reminds me of the “mission” described to me by an acquaintance of mine which, by all definitions, seems quite impossible and one that should not be accepted. Just let the tape go up in smoke and hope for the best. The mission, should one decide to accept it, is to silence a snoring spouse without waking them. Basically, get in, halt the ruckus and get out with the spouse none the wiser. Presumably, waking the spouse can lead to a bit of middle of the night grumpiness and all day irritability.

First, I need to make it very clear that this mission is not based on any personal first-hand experience. What is described here is based on comments from others who have found themselves in this fairly common predicament and have offered some possible sleep saving remedies. Second, I have been told the noise reducing suggestions noted here have slim to no chance of accomplishing anything other than making your loving spouse more than a little bit grumpy at various times during the night.

I am not quite sure what causes the nightly roar to ascend from the other side of the bed each night. A deviated septum (I have no idea what that is), a lumpy pillow (had a few of those), lack of sleep and tight PJs have all been floated out as potential sources of this most unwanted racket. Crickets chirping, roosters crowing, dogs howling, and thunder crashing are all preferred to the cacophony that is the snore. The biggest problem with any kind of snoring, or so I have been told, is that there is no consistency to the madness. Sometimes it is just a bit more than heavy breathing which can then quickly crescendo to an indescribable window rattling roar or fall back to total silence. The waiting and wondering soon becomes the main issues in all of this. The listener attempts to anticipate the next sound, and thoughts of returning to sleep soon lose out to the ever popular Guess What Sound Will Come Next game that has only one player and no clear way to victory. Other night noises tend to fall into a low consistent hum; snorers vary their noises on a most inconsistent basis. Snorers have an unlimited number of noises they can, and do, make. Snorers appear to know no season as all of the possible variations have been reported throughout the year. Finally, an experienced snorer will somehow manage to be perfectly quiet while both partners are asleep and then manage to resume at just the time their mate returns to bed from their nightly rest room stop.

So, when stuck with a snorer as a roommate, there are a few not so foolproof options to use.

  1. The gentle nudge approach is used by polite spouses everywhere.  This technique tends to drive mixed and short lived results. A solid push might also work, but just make sure the spouse is not dozing too close to the edge.
  2. The shake the pillow option is a personal favorite of the one relaying this information to me. Supposedly, it can awaken the snorer without any clear trail back to the offending spouse. The subtle awakening keeps the crabbiness to a minimum, but also often leads to a quick settling back into the previous snore prone position.
  3. The butt bounce or full body slam approaches can be effective, but have become less effective with the improvement in bed design and are not recommended for sleepers over 50 as they have been known to cause back injury to both parties.
  4. The kick them in the shins method is a significantly bolder approach.  The spouse will clearly know where the kick came from and will tend to wake up enough so that the kick will be a clear morning memory. Some explaining is needed should one decide to use this method.
  5. The throwing of an elbow tends to be the step of last resort.  There is a chance for bruising with this method and it could be viewed by some as a bit of an anger response. The elbow can land in spots not intended. Nothing worse than a broken nose adding to the snore sources.
  6. Before step 5 becomes a viable option, it may be time to grab the pillow and find a friendly couch. My friend indicates this can be the loneliest of options and does not come highly recommended.

Ultimately, the best approach is to suggest a bit of late night reading for the spouse which would allow sufficient time to dose off before the melodies begin. This tends to be fairly effective until the non-snoring male spouse reaches 50 at which time sleeping through the night is no longer a common occurrence and the snoring spouse lays in wait for just the right moment to resume the noises of the night. Please remember all of the facts on this subject were gathered from in depth interviews with those less fortunate than me. Happy snoring.

Girls – Who Knew?

During these quiet times, I think back on some of those special moments when our children were closer than a text message away. This letter to my son is one of those moments when I tried to impart some wisdom regarding God’s most complicated creation..

To My Son:
As most everyone knows from early on, boys are rather uncomplicated creations of God. Women, while also God’s creation, somehow are far from uncomplicated. It is almost as if God wanted a challenge after all of His other creating was complete. I do not know that women were a challenge to God, but they sure are to us men. I am not certain what God had in mind when he created men and women so different, but needless to say men and women have very little in common when it comes to relationship building which is supposed to be the whole reason for dating.

I am quite certain, before you are very old, you will begin to notice that there is something quite, shall we say, attractive about most girls. An attractiveness that makes your tummy go all queasy when you need to talk (ugh!) to a girl. This is a feeling you never get when discussing trading Brett Favre’s football card for Randy Moss’s with Tommy, the boy next door. (By the way, not a good trade).
The first time I really noticed this rather different feeling was when I was square dancing with Lori in sixth grade. In my day, all the boys would line up on one side of the gym and all the girls would line up on the other to pair off for a bit of reluctant square dancing. As the lines moved together you would be quickly paired off with one of those girls. During this activity there was quite a bit of line hopping going on since no boy wanted to be matched up with Blanche while everyone wanted to hold Lori’s hand. On one unbelievable day, by some stroke of luck, the class bully miscalculated his place in line and I was paired with Lori. I had never danced so well–my doe see dos were divine and my allemande lefts were superb. I could have danced all period and straight through math class. Unfortunately, I was soon brought back to reality with a toot of the whistle. I don’t think I ever said anything to Lori, but my tummy was a turning.

Because I always had trouble coming up with something clever or otherwise to say, I learned very little about girls through high school and beyond. I can share with you very little good advice, which might make your first encounters with girls more successful. What advice I can give you may or may not help, but I thought I should still share what I think I know. Most of this information is gleaned from conversations with other boys who oftentimes knew as little about the subject as I did.

  1. Girls tend to be relationship oriented while us boys tend to favor the task which has a logical conclusion. Relationships require communication and for some girls this means there is no end in sight to the communicating required. You might hear it said that girls need to talk twice as much as boys. Well it’s actually worse than that. Not only do they need to talk twice as much as boys, the talk generally needs to be meaningful. Sharing the day’s box scores or how that birdie putt rimmed the cup does not count towards meaningful conversation and may even be construed as boring; in which case, you’re well on your way to being passed over for the next boy on the date card.
  2. Girls cherish the small things, which we boys usually don’t think twice or even once about. The fact that we don’t think about them is probably why we don’t do them and why we’re off the date card once again. A little note or a bouquet of flowers goes a long way towards keeping us in favor with the girl of our current affections.
  3. You should not spend time officially dating while in high school. It is fine to spend time together in groups of friends, but, really, dating means spending a lot of one on one time with someone who you really don’t need to get to know that well until you’re well on your way to thinking about a long term commitment.
  4. Girls cry for no apparent reason. I haven’t figured out what is appropriate to say in these moments, however, I do know of a few things not to say.
    • It is best not to talk about sports during these special moments. Explaining why the Brewers have no chance to win the World Series in hopes of keeping the conversation flowing will only add to the flow of tears.
    • It is best not to try to be clever during these moments. Saying, “I think I should invest in some Kleenex stock” or “You really should consider getting waterproof makeup” are probably considered inappropriate remarks by the one who matters the most at the time.
    • It is best not to be quiet during these moments. While you are not to say anything “cute”, you do need to say something. This puts an incredible amount of pressure on most boys. You can’t talk about sports and you can’t be clever, where does that leave you? I think with the dreaded double “S”, serious and sensitive.

The first date is always interesting. You are as nervous as can be. You will have a million and one decisions to make during the course of the evening and even one tiny mistake could bring to an end your hopes for, yes, a second date. Do you spend a little or a lot? Flowers or no? Formal or casual? Dutch or do you pick up the tab? A movie or just dinner? If it’s a sports activity, do you let her win? Do you try to hold her hand? Do you open the car door for her? Do you bring her flowers? Who should you ask? What do you wear? Where do you go? When should you pick her up? Why am I doing this? Whew, sounds like an awful lot of questions and no one’s giving you the answers.

Well, maybe I can help on some of these.

  • Spend as little as possible. Next question.
  • Flowers are always pretty much a sure thing. Carnations are your Mom’s favorite and they tend to have good staying power. Along the lines of point one, you can buy a bunch of carnations without a vase for a lot less than if you buy the whole arrangement.
  • Casual was always preferred. This tends to fall in line with point one as well. Formal equals expensive.
  • Dutch.
  • Lunch is cheaper.

Let’s take a break. I hope you do not think somehow that I am cheap when it comes to the first date. I prefer to call it being a good steward of what God has provided. Besides, you will be facing one decision after another. If you keep a steady theme throughout the date– frugal, or she may say cheap– many of the decisions become real simple and you will come across as confident, sure of yourself, experienced, strong, and cheap.

  • If you ever hope to play her again in whatever sport you choose, you need to keep the game close. For example, your Mom and I would play tennis together. The first few times we played I tried my best to lay that ball right back on her racket. I saw little to be gained by thoroughly trouncing her. Something, of course, which I could have done with little or no effort.
  • Hand holding is a risky proposition for the first date. I suggest a no on this one.
  • YES. I failed miserably on this one with your Mom, and I am sure she will still be retelling the story when we are rocking together on the front porch in our retirement years. It wasn’t that I didn’t know to do this one it was just that I was so nervous thinking about everything else that the simple things kind of slipped by.
  • I think I answered this already. As you can see things can get a little confusing when you’re arranging the big date and it becomes very easy to start repeating yourself.
  • This one is actually pretty simple. Start with the girls who do not do a quick about face when they see you and have the right answer to the question of why should I let you into my kingdom (His not yours).
  • What to wear? This is one I best not answer. Fashions seem to change so much that any ideas I have will be so “old fashioned” that they will be of little value. Unless of course, I happen to hit the time period when bell bottoms and polyester are in style once again.
  • Another repeated question.
  • The time of the date is fairly critical. You do not want to make it too early just in case you do not hit it off and you find yourselves staring blankly at each other for an extended time period. Too late and you find yourself rushing to get her home on time (something very important if hopes for date number two are in your head).
  • Why do we date? I don’t know. Sounds like a lot of stress to me.

When you were very young, your mother asked me what I was going to tell you before your first big date. I stumbled over the question for quite some time and I am still stumbling. Much of life is based on relationships. Relationships with the Lord, your Mom and me, your sisters, Grandma and Papa, friends, and, yes, even someday, girls. Never take these relationships lightly and always remember the one you are dating is precious in God’s sight and her Dad’s, and should be treated accordingly.

Love, Dad