Before she even gets started, let Crabby Old Lady be clear: she is deeply grateful that so far – at age 73 – she has escaped the common conditions and diseases of old age. No arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. and no recurrence of the one little basal cell carcinoma from five or six years ago.
Crabby knows how lucky she is but that doesn't mean she's sanguine about the minor afflictions of age.
Floaters anyone? Not a day goes by that Crabby isn't trying to brush little black bugs off her food.
The only time of day Crabby can escape her tinnitus is in the shower when the sound of falling water neutralizes it. But silence? Crabby hasn't been without noise in her ears for six or eight years.
Toad spots (seborrheic keratoses) – harmless but ugly – come and go. The only grace is that when they appear on Crabby's face, they are usually skin color, not dark brown like the others.
All these are annoying enough but the worst is chin hair which in Crabby's case extends to her upper lip.
The reason for them is boring enough: old women have hardly any estrogen left so testosterone takes over and that means hair – just not where she wants it on her head.
Just as there is no cure for baldness, there is also no cure for excess facial hair on women and the available treatments are awful.
Electrolysis and laser treatments - if they work at all – are successful mostly on dark hair and hardly ever on light hair like Crabby's. Besides, it takes six to 12 treatments to show results, is hugely expensive and must be repeated about twice a year. Forever.
Waxing is best done professionally, is painful, expensive and must be repeated about once a month – and you know how fast time flies when you're old.
Over-the-counter creams and strips are no better. They're messy, hard to apply and too often damage skin. Trust Crabby, it is a horrible procedure.
Plucking or tweezing don't work for Crabby. They are painful and although the hair does come out, little red bumps erupt on her skin where each and every hair was pulled out. No thanks.
All that is so depressing that Crabby might consider becoming the bearded lady in a circus (do they still have those?). If only there was more hair on her chin and upper lip, but alas. So Crabby is left with shaving.
It is a myth that shaving makes new growth thicker. The real difference is that shaved hairs have blunt ends instead of the tapered, softer tips of hair that has not been is shaved.
Crabby uses a cute little electric razor made especially for old women's facial hair problems. Actually, she uses it when she remembers to which often doesn't happen until she can nearly braid the hair on her chin.
Okay, Crabby exaggerates – she's slightly more diligent than that. But she has come to understand why a lot of men hate shaving and she's not happy that this latest item on her list of irritating old age afflictions will, like all the others, last until she dies.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marc Leavitt: This Old Man