Do your ankles shine like they’ve been polished with lemon Pledge?
Do you shy away from shorts in the summer because the hairline that used to begin at the back of your heels is receding upwards in a slow ascent toward your knees?
You, like me and many other men south of 60 are suffering from Bald Ankle Syndrome. BAS, a truly cruel twist of ironic wordplay, is the French word for socks, which we keep yanking higher and higher in an effort to shield us from the glare that has replaced the hair on our once hirsute ankles. I can’t find solid scientific evidence, but a random poll of most of my friends found that male hosiery is the culprit complicit in the wear down of the hair down under.
Although there is no cure for BAS, which is almost invisible in its early stages, the bride has come up with a few ideas in her efforts to spare embarrassment by association at the beach. She’s offered to put her artistic talents to use by using a Sharpie to replace the hairs of bygone days and even suggested tattoos.
It’s all part of her determined effort to slow the inevitably visible effects of aging on every inch of me remotely visible to passersby; a last-ditch effort to reduce the risk that I’ll come home from an unsupervised trip to Walmart with knee socks.
She can relax in that regard, however, because of the secret pact forged recently with four friends that forbids us from ever setting foot in public wearing knee socks and sandals. Although I have friends who are fond of that form of footwear, I haven’t slapped on a pair since the ’60s, when the leather ones from India named after the son of the creator were an integral component of every hippie’s wardrobe.
Much of the inevitable toll that Mother Time takes on the male populace deals with all forms of follicles from head to foot. Balding begins as early as the late teens for some, which may explain the increasing popularity of shaving one’s skull. It can rear its ugly head at any age, in stages spread over decades of topular decline that are invisible to the untrained eye, except for wives and partners.
The sad, inescapable truth is that once you get past 50, the only place your hair grows quickly and profusely is on your eyebrows and in your ears and nose. It’s as if the male ego is attempting to deal with the crown recession by accelerating the growth of hair on the next three levels.
That explains why every trip to the barber is now accompanied by a reminder to trim the hedgerows above my eyes. And why I’ll find myself some time this weekend being chased around the kitchen – the lighting is perfect when I’m pressed against the stove – by the bride wielding that tiny pair of scissors she prefers whenever she catches a close-up of wiry little critters poking out of my ears. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on the design for my merkin anklets. (Don’t look that up if you’re easily offended.)
Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.