GAY AND GRAY: "Salvaging the Old"

Crabby Old Lady's Annoying Day

It started in the early morning as Crabby Old Lady was brushing her hair. Although she has been trying to ignore it, there is no denying that the top of her head is looking remarkably like a balding man's bad comb over. More about that later.

Crabby's minor morning chore was to clean the microwave which had become shmutzy enough to cause some guilt. No big deal, right? When she was washing the revolving glass platter, it slipped and crashed, broken pieces clattering in the sink. At least it wasn't the floor.

Okay, shit happens. But where to buy a replacement? Fifteen minutes on the internet turned up a bunch of them for (would you believe?) $35 or $40! Then Crabby found some at a local store – well, local if 20-odd miles counts.

She was halfway there before she realized she'd probably spend as much or more in gas as on shipping charges if she'd purchased it online. Oh, well. Too late.

Home again, Crabby cleaned the microwave, washed the new platter – very carefully - and was, two hours after she had begun, pleased with her spotless microwave.

But now the glass cooktop, in comparison, needed work. Might as well clean the whole damned kitchen.

This trendy kitchen stuff isn't all its cracked up to be. A glass stove top is amazingly difficult to keep clean. They are always, always streaked unless you use a special cleaner and buff with paper towels – cloth towels just don't do it.

Once that was finished, Crabby decided the granite countertop (not her choice; it came with the place) could use a thorough wipedown. Take a look at the pattern on this counter:


It's attractive enough, but the colors mean spills are invisible so if Crabby misses a spot when she's cleaning up after a meal, a few hours later or the next day, her hand lands in a sticky spot. Ew.

And, like the cooktop, it's nearly impossible to keep from streaking. It is a mystery to Crabby how streaks are visible but not a spot of spilled jam or salad dressing. She deeply misses her New York City butcher block counter.

Once the kitchen was tidied, Crabby got back to what she'd been thinking about all morning as she cleaned - her creeping baldness. Another look in the mirror was alarming. It's not just the top of her head; the crown is equally thin and it has been getting worse.

Apparently, Crabby comes by this baldness genetically. Her mother's hair was down to baby-fine wisps by the time she died at 75 and her grandmother was completely bald long before she died at age 92.

A few years ago, Crabby spent a couple of days educating herself about female baldness. No matter what anyone tells you, unless your baldness is due to illness or medical treatment such as chemotherapy, there is no cure. Nothing regrows hair.

A shorter haircut will only make the baldness more evident and doesn't allow Crabby to pin up her hair which covers her crown if not the front of her head.

Embracing baldness is not an option. Crabby is not Grace Jones or Sinead O'Connor or Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. Plus, shaving her head makes a statement that does not align with who Crabby thinks she is and the thought of the reactions it would cause for the rest of her life is both tiresome and boring.

The only other solution Crabby can find is a wig or hats or scarves which could be mixed as the mood strikes so Crabby spent more than two hours yesterday checking out hundreds of photos of wigs online. Almost all of them look like wigs. More acceptable ones are styled for much younger women intent on looking sexy. And there are few choices - suitable or not - in gray.

Now if Crabby Old Lady had the courage of her convictions about aging, she would take her cue from Gloria Steinem (who said seven years ago, "This is what 70 looks like") and go about her life with her thin spots hanging out. Crabby, to her chagrin, is not yet that free of vanity.

So here she sits on Thursday evening, thoroughly annoyed with herself writing a blog post she doesn't like but, at least, with a clean kitchen - the last being the best she can say for her day.

There is no new story at The Elder Storytelling Place today. Publication will resume on Monday


Ronni: I feel for you. I'm terribly vain about my hair too so I truly understand. Anyway a friend with the same situation uses a beautiful hairpiece over the crown that is very natural looking. You may need a professional stylist to give a hand here. I've been told by a dermatologist (a woman) that major female hair loss occurs around 40 to 50 years old & hair loss at our age is more likely something else. I guess the something else is genetics, but you may want to check it out with a dr. BTW, I still have a soft spot for Crabby OL no matter how crabby. :)Dee

I think this post ranks along with, if not above, the clean kitchen. Complimenti and thank you from one who understands.

First of all, it's pretty easy to embrace looking elderly if you were given the movie-star looks (and apparent durability) of Gloria Steinem. So forget her, the rest of us have to make an effort.

You CAN find a beautiful, perfect wig or hairpiece, even several. You should go to a professional, and you'll spend some money, but they exist. And you are totally worth it, lovely lady.

I have heard there are comfortable wigs out there and in gray; but don't know. i played around with one when I was in my late 20s but back then they were not comfortable, just a fun variation. I think it'd be worth looking though as it seems like a good solution for the times you want to look different. A lot of women wear wigs and nobody even knows. Sometimes I can tell only because their hairstyle never really changes but always looks great. That's hardly a negative for using them.

My grandmother wore a wig.

Years ago one of my part-time jobs was with a cleaning service. It was a learning experience. I determined never to have mirrored closet doors or tables, stainless steel appliances or sinks, and no glass-top tables.

Dear Crabby. Why Grey? If Grey, why not just something for the top. Yes, talk to your doc about what's out there. There's very comfortable hats out there that will keep your glasses dry too. :)

My mother wore a wig that always looked like a wig. Then again, she always looked better than all the other old ladies on the golf course or cruise ship. Me, I wear hats. Mine is just retreating at the moment tho I expect it to worsen at any second.

Ronni, that really sucks!Wigs are great, but never as comfortable as having your hair free and blowing in the wind. I have one for emergencies, and I must say, close friends have to ask if that's the wig or my own hair, AND it was cheap! I'll send a photo by email.

I LOVE you, Ronni -- it's refreshing to hear you discuss openly something most of us want to pretend isn't happening -- It does suck! I think I'll start looking for a wig!

Hey Crabby....I feel your pain!

Suggestion #1; Get a motorhome.... they are made by men so are mostly basic, boring, bachelor brown... At least go take a look at them!

Suggestion #2; Get a cat and live in the motor home alone!

S#3-6; Travel a lot, see the country, enjoy your women friends.

S#7; Get a phone that allows you to have I-net 24/7....

S#8; Ease up on yourself, there is no need to have spotless, bright, shiney microwave or kitchen tile!

I have lived in a motor home for 27 years, traveled the country, been there, done that. Gave up men as companions way back in the early 70's....Life is good with only a few men as friends. Best with just women friends.

I used to be Crabby #2... Have been a Happy camper since the spring of 1984!

Elizabeth...Happy Camper

Ronni: Why be crabby as we women all have the same hair problem. Also smile as you still can drive to get what you broke, Many of us us would have to bus there if there was even a bus going that direction. Also smile for you at least have an updated kitchen with I'm sure such smooth counters instead of old cracked Formica ones A smooth stove top is easier than cleaning spills under those old elements. You had to take out the element, then scrub and clean that under catching dish, and maybe even lift the stove top and get under it all. I consider that a worse job. Sorry to be so crabby about your crabiness so lets both smile.

I went through losing most of my hair- except for a curly fringe around the edges - when I had chemotherapy for colon cancer for 6 months. I hated the idea of a wig and didn't like the scarves, so settled on a largish denim golf hat with a small bill. I only had to wear it when I was in public and it became my "signature!" Many never knew I had lost my hair.

That said, I have to admit I actually never tried on a partial hairpiece or a wig, so maybe that's an option to consider. My counter tops look just like yours and I have the same problem! I keep trying to "wipe up" this one spot that turns out to be part of the pattern!

I feel your pain on so many levels today -- especially with your hair. Mine has been thinning for the last 10 years and yeah, my 'crowning glory' has been thinning for years. Genetics are against me since both my parents' hair suffer/suffered hair loss so I wear a wig. And yeah, it can be a challenge finding one that works well. It's not the ideal but look on the bright side: no more trips to the hairdresser.

And yeah, it makes me crabby as hell. Some people simply aren't nice.

My Mom wore a wig. Don't know why she started but the first one wasn't that great as far as looking natural. Too much hair! Too much color!
That's what is needed - a wig with not so much hair that is styled simply in a pleasing soft color. Is that too much to ask?

I have two suggestions for Crabby.

1. She should get a lovely custom made wig and wear it with elan. At this point I looked up elan and found:

Elan: Ardor, passion or enthusiasm. . Noun, 1. elan - a feeling of strong eagerness
and confidence.

2. About the cleaning. Buy a selection of Get Well cards and keep them on your mantle.
When people come in and see them they will assume that you have been ill and therefore,unable to clean...

This beats my previous ploy of leaving the vacuum in the middle of the living room giving the impression that I was just about to clean.

Hope this helps....

Oh, how familiar both the cleaning and the hair issues are. We tried to find a wire rack with rubber feet when the feet on the old one cracked a couple of years ago. Without it we can't use the convection part of the convection/microwave. We had to order on line because it simply wasn't available anywhere locally.

My hair, like yours, has been getting thinner and thinner. Over the last couple of years I have threatened, when totally exasperated, to shave my head. But, like Eleanor of Aquitane in the 'Lion In Winter,' I really don't want to shock the 'children' (nieces and nephews in my case.) I have worn wigs for the last 20 years but recently even the lightest are hot and scratchy in the warm weather. I have also used scarves but I have never like hats much. I guess I will just muddle through and phooey on those smug idiots who might criticize.

I really feel your pain. My hair has been thinning for the last 15 years and I am extremely self conscious about it. I am really short and just know people are looking down on my bald head!
Anyway, you might try Toppik hair fibers or the one that I now use because it is so much cheaper and I get the same results is called HSR (Hair So Real). It can be purchased at It only takes a short time to figure out how much you need and how to make it look good.Toppik is more than twice the price ($43. vs 17) but it has a bigger color choice.

Well, here I am after a tornado touched down 5 miles from our house 20 minutes after my daughter and grandson had been driving along its path. This is our 3rd day without power, and I'm at the library in the next down writing this. And I'm empathizing with you!

There are places you can buy inexpensive partial hair pieces and "falls" that you can just add to your hair without wearing a whole wig. I have a short one that works really well. I will email you the results of all of my research and opinions on the subject.

Meanwhile, the library here is filling up with people from my town, all of whom, like me, need to charge their cell phones and laptops.

The rest of the world has been seeing the devastation so near where I am but we haven't had and power so no tv so no visual news. It's disturbing how dependent we are on technology.

Free public libraries are worth their weight in gold.

There's a couple of elderly ladies that walk the park path I frequent everyday. They appear to be daughter and mother and I'm guessing Mom is somewhere around 80.

I always say "Good morning ladies" but Mom keeps staring at the ground as they walk past me and daughter will manage a quick eye glance and a very low "Hello".

I first noticed them in the fall and winter weather where they were both bundled up with head gear on. But as the warmer approached they ditched their coats and caps and Mom proudly displays a bald pate similar to what pictures of Ben Franklin looks like.

Completely bald on the crown and down a little bit but hair in the back and around the ears. Perhaps this has something to with her sour mood each time we meet but she appears unconcerned about being seen in public like that.

My thought is "good for her" but sure wished she'd get a better attitude. Why do some old people feel that being polite is something that's no longer expected of them?

Going bald is more than a mere vanity issue. This kind of very visible loss can be agonizing.

I, too, have had thinning hair for the last few years, mostly on top. I don't think it's genetic in my case, as my mother and both grandmothers all left this life with a full head of hair. I do take blood pressure meds, which have been shown to have hair loss as a possible side effect.

After doing some reading, I started taking evening primrose capsules a couple of months ago. While I haven't seen my hair becoming thicker, it has stopped falling out quite so much. Since this kind of treatment can take a long time, if at all, to work, I'm trying to be patient.

Might be worth a try, Ronni.

Ronni, hair is a huge thing to women! I know--I struggled with mine all my life till I finally gave up and embraced a short cut. Literally made my whole life better.

First, I'd see a dermatologist to find out if there is a fixable physical cause.

Second, I'd probably go with less hair--maybe just long enough to put up but with some layers to add pouf. Inexpensive styling stuff (I use Surf Hair from the hair section at Fred Meyer--and yes, the aqua jar screams "Kids!" but so what) thickens what's left substantially. Rub a little between your hands and blend up from the back. When it dries you have a lot more texture.

Third, go for the hats. It's Oregon, already--hats are everywhere.

I sometimes think our age contains as much appearance angst as being a teenager!

Don't get me started on The Search for Comfortable Shoes That Aren't Hideous ....

Please be careful about recommending treatments for anything on this blog - even OTC supplements which are not required to been tested for safety. No medical/herbal/etc. recommendations on this blog.

I laughed out loud about the sympathy cards on the mantle. Too funny and terrific idea.

So sorry about your tornado, but happy you and your family are safe. You're right - a day without technology is a day lost these days.

Ronni, I think a hat is the answer. You could totally pull off that old hippie hat thing. Get several to wear depending on your mood. And in Portland, it will keep the drizzle out of your eyes.

Do we ever get over being vain? I don't think so--especially about hair. I haven't been interested in having a romance for a long, long time, and I don't do much anymore to change what nature provides me with, but I still love to have people tell me I look good!

Thanks for writing about the hair... It's nice to know there are others with the same problems.
I hate being a hair envier...
Oh - and definitely going out to get some get well cards for the house!

My hair is thinning, too, and my sister's as well. My mother, almost 95, still has hair, so maybe there's hope for my sister and me.

I'm sorry about your hair Ronni. I know what you mean. My hair started coming out in gobs with each shower a couple of months ago. I'd been taking Zoloft was being slowly taken off it. It can cause hair loss, and the doctor says it might not grow back in. Well bugger. Never had thick hair anyway. It seems to have stopped coming out. I'm going to get mine cut a little shorter again, just not enough it left to make much in the way of body. Could be worse I guess but that doesn't make me feel better. Oh well, at least I still have all my teeth. ;-)

I think all the hat and wig suggestions are great, turn a flaw into an opportunity! I've worn glasses most of my life and much as I like what it feels like to do without them, still, glasses can be a fashion accessory that really make you feel good about yourself. I imagine a good wig/scarf/hat can do the same.

I house-sat once for someone with a glass stovetop, there is a cheap cleaning substitute for the expensive stuff you are supposed to use, unfortunately I forget what it is so maybe you could ask around about it. I'm guessing there is something similar for the granite countertop too. Glad I don't have 'em.

But I love the Get Well card scam!!! Gonna get me some...

From the department of "How Come?"

How come we can put a man on the moon, but can't discover a cure for baldness?

How come there is no cell phone app which orders all rogue hair such as ear, nose, cheek, butt, tu tu, back, leg, chin, to report to the head immediately?

How come there is no hair vending machine in malls?

You choose the hair and style you want from pictures posted on the side of the machine, press a button, stick your head in the round chute,

ZZZZZipppp! Out you come with shampooed, expressive, recycled hair from anywhere.

Could choose skunk, rabbit, cat, moose, aardvark, mole, etc.

Could be the start of something good.

"Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair.."

How come?

I LOVE MY WISPY LONG WHITE HAIR, 'specially after unbraiding it. Be grateful you can still reach to brush yer own hair...I sure do wish I could put mine up in a pony tail, or fingerbraid it, now that it's long enough.

btw:CrabbyApple Old Lady,

Why dontcha stop by at the CoffeeClatch/

at my newest blog...

luv and raw sweet peasce,
Granny Sage

Oh I can so relate to the hair think Ronni, I had thick lush wonderful hair and now? Looking more pitiful each month, I would put it up but no more of that, I've settled for a bobcut with a headband and some gel to thicken it up. As to cleaning? What's that?

I adore you, bald or any ole way.......

my hair is also getting thinner. shaved it all off. boy, i am a bad shaver! but it scared too many people.
today my hair is still thin, mixed with the silver is purple and pink. i get alot of compliments on it.
i still threaten to shave it again, when it gets too hot. i have a nice pumkin head.
good one: with the get well cards!

Nancy's comments about the Get Well cards, or the vacuum cleaner left in the middle of the floor made me laugh out loud! and snort my tea through my nose...sorry!

In the retirement complex where I live, the prettiest ladies are the ones with very thin hair who have had a permanent so that they wear a silver halo. The wigged ladies are also pretty...but they all look wrong...too much hair and too youthful. I am thinning daily and hope I'll have the courage to go the silver halo route when I need to.

Ronni, my dermatologist recommended Rogaine. (Should I not be telling you this, because above you stated that we should not give medical advice?) Well, I feel compelled to tell you, because it made a big difference. I use Rogaine for men (the foam) and I wash my hair with Nizoral. The Nizoral/Rogaine combination made a big difference. You have to do it for a couple of months to see the difference. It is better than a wig!

My hair was so thin on the crown and getting thiner by the day. I started using "John Frieda" Root Awakening strength restoring Shampoo about 14 months ago. It was slow go, but now my hair is as thick as it ever was.

My personal opinion: as has been the case with many women of our generation, I think that you would look stunning in a butch or crew cut. Although many of us worry about the shape of our heads, I don't find that a few imperfections keep this cut from looking really good when hair is sparse or when it is thick.

I know this is a little late, but I would suggest that when you go in for your next physical you ask your doc to check your thyroid levels.

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