Boomergirl: On the fringe of anti-aging

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A disclaimer appears at the bottom of my column.

It asks you to take whatever is written with a sizable grain of salt, because I tend to embellish, exaggerate or simply make things up when details escape me.

This week, I assure you that every word you're about to read is the absolute, unadulterated, gospel truth - no matter how incredible it might seem.

It started with an emergency haircut.

After interviewing Charla Krupp, author of "How Not to Look Old," for a story on BoomerGirl.com, I decided I needed bangs in the worst way.

"Almost everyone looks better in bangs," Ms. Krupp declared with authority. "They hide wrinkles on the forehead and can disguise a receding hairline. Everybody looks great with face-framing fringe."

Now, hear me out. I am a staunch opponent of the pervasive, anti-aging movement in this country.

Years ago, I decided to take the honest approach to getting older - no surgery or radical skin treatments, no Botox or collagen injections, and (gasp!) no artificial hair color. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. For now.)

There's something about today's rabid obsession with youth that makes me cringe. In my nightmares, I visualize a world - 20, 30 years from now - where 80-year-old women flaunt breasts that point toward the ceiling and faces smoother than their grandbabies'. Not a pretty picture.

Besides, I was skeptical that a little thing like bangs could drastically improve one's appearance and lower one's perceived age.

Everyone knows humans can be divided into two groups: the "bangs" camp and the "no bangs" camp. I had been camping happily with the "no bangs" folks for years. I never had much luck with "face-framing fringe" and was resolved never to be a "bangs" person again. Moreover, looking at my peers, I never thought "bangs" campers looked any younger than "no bangs" campers.

But after that interview, something happened. Every time I looked in the mirror, my forehead loomed larger than life - like the JumboTron in Times Square. Every line, furrow and sunspot was magnified times 10.

Something had to be done, immediately.

My stylist must've sensed the desperation in my call. He squeezed me in that very afternoon. I climbed into his chair and told him exactly what to do. He clipped, snipped and feathered.

Five minutes later, I had an case of bangs-buyer's remorse.

"What was I thinking?" I exclaimed to myself. "All I've got now is a bunch of gray hairs hanging in my eyes. I don't look younger! And - hello? - bangs aren't exactly low-maintenance. They require fixing and fiddling and constant rearranging on the forehead. They have to be trimmed every week. I'll need a drawer full of pomade to keep them in place. How stupid could I be?"

That night, I decided to drown my sorrows in raw fish. I dragged my husband to our favorite sushi house, requested a table in the back (away from windows and other reflective surfaces), and tried to forget my troubles.

A 30-something waitress approached our table and asked if we cared for a drink. My husband requested a Sapporo; I asked for warm sake.

"OK," she said, noting the order. "May I see some I.D.?"

At that moment, the world stopped spinning. Somewhere in Iowa, a pig took flight. And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, hell had just frozen over.

"Excuse me?" I sputtered, my jaw resting on the table.

"Your I.D.," she answered. "I'm sorry, but I need to check it."

"I haven't been carded since Royals stadium. General admission. 1981!" I pinched my forearm as hard as I could.

"You're kidding, right?" my husband griped, until I abruptly shushed him.

"No! It's OK." I pulled the license out of my wallet, savoring the moment. "Here you go," I said, lifting my chin so she could see the resemblance.

She glanced at the birth date, then back at me.

"Thanks," she said. "The manager insists that we check."

She scanned my husband's license and hurried off to the bar.

"Oh. My. God. It's the bangs," I whispered. "That Krupp woman was right! Face-framing fringe has taken 30 years off!"

We discovered later that our waitress was in training and had, apparently, taken the manager's "check everybody" instructions a little too literally.

But no matter. I left that restaurant, solidly in the "bangs" camp for the rest of my life.

Or, until the next anti-aging expert comes along.

Cathy Hamilton is editor of BoomerGirl.com and a 52-year-old empty-nester. Events recounted here may be embellished, exaggerated or completely made up because she can't remember squat anymore.

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