Nineteen years ago I was 17 and decided it was high time I grew sideburns. The main reason I did this was because I could. Many boys at Gore High School couldn't. I thought sideburns might help me get a girlfriend. I was an idiot.
OPINION: In Gore in the early 1990s I wasn't the only male hatching hair-brained schemes (no pun intended) to create hype and attract the ladies. Even though it may eventually kill him and cost him a lot of money, my mate Andrew started smoking. Another friend, David, got a flat-top and his Mum made him some "poo pants" ... they are the ones MC Hammer wore. He looked ridiculous.
We were all over-compensating for not owning a car that could happily fit half a rugby team. Valiants, Holdens, Falcons, Gore boys loved their big cars with the bench seats. All the cool girls seemed to like the interior of these vehicles too. My Mum's green Honda Civic did not impress the local ladies.
It's funny how the years slide by. Stonewash jeans, boat shoes, novelty boxer shorts, girlfriends, mates and colleagues have all come and gone but my sideburns have stuck by me. They have become so much a part of my facial furniture I didn't even really notice they were there. My wife did.
The other day she suggested I shave them off. She brought it up in front of my hairdresser. He nodded in agreement. They had colluded and I was trapped. When I suggested the sideburns stay, they told me I would look younger without them. I got them in the first place to look older and now suddenly appearing younger seemed a rock-solid idea.
I have been thinking a bit about my age lately. A couple of Wednesdays ago I officially became closer to 40 than 30. It wouldn't have been a big deal except recently there have been some telltale signs screaming ...
"You're not as young as you think you are."
Last Friday, I was playing touch and my much younger brother-in-law sped away from me with ease. I always thought I was faster than him. The number one preset on my radio station is the Breeze or More FM. They play songs I know. It used to be ZM or The Edge but now those stations seem a bit loud. And I went into my favourite shop in Auckland the other day. I hadn't been in there for a year or two and I didn't really like much of their gear. I ended up buying a shirt from a menswear store with no loud music or attractive shop assistants chewing gum.
I remember about five years ago a telly boss asked me if I was going to dye my hair or become a silver fox. He told me about some other men on the TV who dye their hair. You would be surprised.
I made a conscious decision then and there to have full disclosure about my appearance and go the salt and pepper route. In reality when I look at some other men my age, I'm just glad to have hair.
I understand many will read this and go 'he's 36, no big deal'. I know people are older than me and that we are all getting old at the same speed. I guess I've just realised this week, I'm not going to be young forever.
P.S. My sideburns are starting to descend South again. I'm not going to fight them.
Hadyn Jones is a journalist not having a mid-life crisis. He's already had it. Last week.
- The Dominion Post