This was on my mind as I walked passed the magazine stand and Toby Keith caught my eye on the cover of Forbes. Looked like something caught Keith’s eye, too. Either a mouse or the scalpel of a vanity doc.
Could be—I hope to God it was—an overzealous Photoshopper. It brings great pain to these skittish computer jockeys (I won’t say “artists”) that somebody might notice what they consider an imperfection. So click to the soften tool (or whatever), a few swipes here and there, and everybody comes out looking like a plastic doll made in a Chinese factory with shaky quality control standards. Faces which have been Photoshopped for magazines look like that startled Nazi in Indiana Jones whose face was melted.
But it could have been a blade. Keith is, after all, at “that age”. These are the years just past fifty, when everything starts heading south. This is when vigor nostalgia strikes and if it’s not evaded it can lead to bad news, poor choices, and an entry on the new liver waiting list. Or an appointment with a med school graduate who uses his healing skills to cure his overdraft.
Contrast, if you will, Kenny Rogers who surrendered to Johnny Cash who did not. Country singers both, about the same age in these pictures. Heartache, grief, the travails of the Common Man their business. Who’s more believable?
Maybe we could have guessed The Gambler would have gone this route. Too many pop tunes in his oeuvre, including an album with the Bee Gees. Cash never really succumbed to that temptation; but then he led a harder life.
I can’t look at Rogers without cringing. I can’t see the man, just those cat-like eyes. Look at pictures from when his fame was at its peak, and seeing him now, I feel let down. Not that I ever listened to him, or cared about his career, but you hate to see any many feminize himself like this.
Makeup is for the stage, and the only excuse for it. Sean Connery, the Duke, and, yes, even Bing Crosby, the coolest of cool customers, all wore rugs for cinematic purposes. But they got them off their skulls as quick as possible when the lens caps went back on the cameras. Crosby hated his so much that he tried, and got away with, wearing hats on the set to disguise his bare pate.
There’s a story told of John Wayne. He was talking to a bunch of college kids—the least knowledgeable, but most passionate of people—about Vietnam. Some brat yelled out that Wayne shouldn’t be listened to because his hair wasn’t real, whereupon the Duke lifted off his toupe and said, “Sure my hair is real. It’s not mine, but it’s real.” But you don’t need lessons on John Wayne’s manliness.
Anyway, none of these men, as far as we know, womaned-up and had a “procedure.” Maybe because they didn’t feel they had to. But lesser fellows increasingly figure a little stretching here, a little gouging there to set their faces into a leering rictus will make them look younger. It doesn’t. It makes them look like old men who were rescued from chemical spills.
Age gracefully, guys. Bald with grace. Leave ponytails for those with hair. Trade in your shorts for pants. Leave youth to the young. Nobody takes a man seriously who is pretending to be a boy.