Turtles and Fragile Male Egos

Fragile male egos are on my mind this morning. No, not plural. Singular. Just my fragile male ego. I realize my ego is frail and brittle. It can be shattered like thin, delicate glass simply by giving thought to how our (and especially my) physical attractiveness declines with age. But, then, I have to ask whether that is a valid statement. Does our physical attractiveness decline, or does our definition of attractiveness fail to mature along with our bodies? Thanks in no small part to advertisers’ constant barrage of ads that reinforce the idea that “beauty” is the exclusive province of the young, we convince ourselves that we shed copious amounts of physical attraction with each passing year. (I put quotation marks around beauty because I’m drawing a blank as to the male version of that attribute…assuming beauty is not gender-neutral and applies exclusively to females)

My male ego took a beating yesterday while I was getting my hair cut. Sitting in the barber’s chair, I looked directly into a mirror in front of me. Looking back at me was a pasty-skinned man with far too much flab around his aging neck. Where once I could have seen a young man with reasonably tight skin, I saw a geezer who had allowed himself to slide gracelessly past middle age into the middle years of old age. Who would find that man even slightly attractive, I wondered? I have my answer and I’m glad my attractiveness does not rely exclusively (maybe not even partially) on my physical appearance. But if the majority of youth-fixated advertisers had their way, we would equate attractiveness with youth; nothing but age (or the relative lack thereof) and bespoke clothing designed to accentuate youthful attributes would matter.

Speaking of fragile male egos, I think they are largely responsible for the popularity of flashy pickup trucks, guns, and hunting gear. A large proportion of the male population seems to associate those products with the demonstration of adequate “maleness” and its corresponding attractiveness to either young, attractive women or equally macho men. Or both. I am grateful my fragile male ego is not strengthened by male toys. Instead, mine requires stroking of a different kind—words like “you’re handsome” or “you’re intelligent” or “you’re not bad for someone so old” work for me. 😉


Speaking of pickups, what ever happened to the long-bed versions? They used to be long enough, with the tailgate down, and wide enough to fit a sheet of plywood. Now, they look like they might require a shoe-horn to fit a half-sheet. And what about shoe-horns; does anyone use shoe-horns anymore? So many products that used to be commonplace have suddenly disappeared. Or so it appears to me. Calculators, once ubiquitous, are now rare. Wall phones exist only in museums and on the walls of diners in derelict old western towns along long stretches of desolate highways.

Those isolated towns, the ones with wall telephones in their diners, make great sets for gritty movies in which all the characters—hard-drinking, tight-lipped, and deeply unfriendly to strangers—have monstrous chips on their shoulders.  For some reason, I like those kinds of movies. There Will Be Blood. Hell or High Water. No Country for Old Men. Missing. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.  Okay, they’re not all of the same genre/ilk. But I like them, nonetheless. There’s something about their tone. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I may not know movies, but I know what I like.


New toilets are scheduled to be delivered today. At the “new” house. The toilets there work perfectly fine, if you like toilets designed to use too much water for too little flush. They are not broken. They work as they always have. They’re just not good, modern-day, water-efficient toilets. So we ordered new ones. We won’t install them until we know what we’re going to do with the floors in the bathrooms. That decision will come soon, I hope. In the meantime, I’m very slowly painting the walls, with the idea that every wall in the house will get at least one coat of a new color. Some will require two coats. Some will require a primer and one or two coats. It’s like renovating a house. Almost exactly like renovating a house.


The temperature outside is now 52°F. The forecast calls for it to drop to 19°F tonight. Another night to leave the faucets dripping. And for the next two or three nights. I do not know whether I will do much painting while the temperatures are so low. I may sit in front of the fireplace at the “old” house, instead, warming myself and mulling over things over which I have no control. Which could be damn near anything.


I made the mistake of ordering groceries online and scheduling pickup for tomorrow morning. The roads could be icy tomorrow morning. I do not much like driving on icy roads. “Do not much like” is my understated way of saying “loathe.” But what’s done is done. I guess I could cancel the order, but that would delay getting the groceries. So I will just play it by ear. If it’s icy tomorrow morning, I will drive slower than normal. Much slower than normal. Turtles could speed by me. Time will tell. It always does.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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