It started with one rogue eyebrow hair. I could see it out of the corner of my eye as I tried to focus on the computer screen at work. 

I positioned my face to get a better reflection in my office window and tried plucking it with thumb and index finger, but it was still too bright outside to see properly and I couldn’t isolate it.  Now quite obsessed, I hurried to the bathroom and moved in nice and close to the mirror…

Got it!

The thrill of a successful pluck quickly gave way to the utter shock of what I saw. I shook my head in amazement as I stood and stared at this thing in the palm of my hand. A THREE CENTIMETRE eyebrow hair stared back at me.

Another guy came in to the bathroom and I quickly dropped the hair (he probably heard it bang on the floor) and pretended to wash my hands. I contemplated myself in the mirror intently. I hadn’t been too worried about the odd grey hair or wrinkle before, begrudgingly accepting that these things were all part of the ageing process for most people in their fortieth year of life. But this was different. This eyebrow hair was the clearest symbol yet of the dark side of ageing.

The fact is, I have always considered myself someone who looks younger than his age. Not by heaps, but just a bit, and I guess I wear this as a bit of a badge of honour. A just reward for trying to keep fit and eat well, and undertaking some fundamental grooming activities. Clearly these activities hadn’t included eyebrow plucking up until now.

But The Eyebrow Incident opened my eyes (which were now clearer in both the physical and metaphysical sense) to the level of work required from this point on to maintain any semblance of physical youth. That night, under closer self-examination, to my dismay I discovered a thatch (or perhaps it was more of a thicket? Or even a hedge?) of hairs growing out my right earhole. Weirdly, just my right one. But I guess I should be happy to accept small wins.

Given the ageing process was now clearly taking hold, it got me thinking: was it worth even continuing any mirage of physical and grooming activity?

Those sit-ups I did a few times a week, what was the point? I’d never had much of a six-pack even at my fittest, so the chances of any abs miraculously popping through now were basically zero.

And I could feel my knees deteriorating each time I went for a run these days. Soon I would have no choice but to swap running laps of the local lake to walking laps of the local swimming pool.

But before getting too depressed, I knew I should be looking at physical decay as part of the bigger picture. That ageing actually does have some surprisingly good aspects to it.

I am certainly wiser now than I was even just a few years ago, and I don’t just mean that in the all-important Trivial Pursuit sense. More that I simply don’t do or say as many stupid things as I used to.

“I also think I’m at the age now where my kids are at a perfect age from a parents’ perspective – old enough to have some independence, but young enough to not hate you.”

I also think I’m at the age now where my kids are at a perfect age from a parents’ perspective – old enough to have some independence, but young enough to not hate you.

It’s surreal to think that I now have kids who are doing the things I remember as my earliest memories. I can so clearly remember walking with my mum in the snow for the first time, going to my first football game with my dad, or getting in trouble for using a swear word I didn’t know the meaning of.

It dawned on me that this stage in life was an ideal time to focus on creating happy family memories for my kids, because now they’ll start to take these memories with them through life. Of course I couldn’t plan exactly which memories they held on to, but I could focus on sharing experiences with them, both big and small, that we could look back on when I was actually the old guy walking laps of the pool.

But as I type, my focus shifts back to something else, and my mood turns bleak once again. I see a dark cloud sitting just above my field of vision. One that must be moved on before I can move on, and feel physically, emotionally and spiritually free.

Thankfully, I’ve stolen my daughter’s mani-pedi set, so a mirror and tweezers are never too far away.


Gary is a financial controller for a Perth-based mining company. He has had columns published on the challenging subject of the lighter side of accountancy, and has written for SBS TV. He is married to Sue and has two young children, Ella and Sebastian.

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