Who is That Guy in the Mirror?

Who is that guy in the mirror?

Who is that Guy in the Mirror?

There’s a guy staring at me. Who is that guy in the mirror? I don’t know who he is or how he got there. He resembles me, a little bit, but I don’t really recognize him. It’s got me totally befuddled. Maybe I should install that alarm system I’ve been thinking about lately.

First of all, this guy’s got at least a dozen long, wild white hairs sticking out of his eyebrows in all directions. I want to tell him to borrow my tweezers that I normally use for pulling cactus needles out of me. All I know is that when I saw myself in the same mirror yesterday, those weren’t there. So who is that guy in the mirror?

He’s got wrinkles in his forehead that I’m assuming come from thinking really hard about something. Yeah, that’s the ticket, must be from thinking. Can’t be from age. I don’t have those wrinkles so he shouldn’t either.

There’s a clump of dark hair growing out of his right ear too. Why? I have no idea. It seems to me if the human body wanted to keep its own ears warm it would grow hair on the ear, not in it. (It’s like armpit hair. What’s up with that? My armpits are the second warmest spot on me. I don‘t need hair there.)

See, I had thirty radiation treatments to the side of my head many years ago, back when they didn’t think it caused much harm. It explains a lot about me today. One thing I do know, though, is that I shouldn’t be growing any hair out of my ears. The treatments took away half my facial hair so nothing else should be popping out.

Who is that guy in the mirror with the strange look in his eyes? He looks tired and a bit worn out. I know that can’t be me. It’s not uncommon for my work week to entail things like manhandling large trees in or out of the ground, digging holes and shoveling tons of gravel a day. This guy looks like he’s too tired to lift a stamp to his mouth to lick it.

I take a step closer to the mirror and notice a slight sagging under the chin and around the cheeks. Now I know for sure that’s not me. Nothing on me is sagging, yet. Well, nothing I would talk about to anyone but a doctor. I specifically make sure that I go the gym at least three to five times a week just to avoid that very thing. So, who is that guy in the mirror?

This is not the first time I’ve seen him in the mirror. I think he started showing up sometime last year. I should charge him rent if he’s going to live with me. Sometimes he even talks to me although he never has anything good to say. For instance, about a month ago he was complaining, first thing in the morning, that he’d woken up with his lips and teeth stuck solidly to the inside of his mouth.  I told him to just turn on the humidifier.

Another morning he woke up and complained that his eyes were all dry and blurry. He said it took him ten minutes just to see anything clearly. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about because I couldn’t see him in the mirror.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided that guy in the mirror was the answer to a lot of the mysteries in my life in the past year. You see, about a year ago I went on a three day rampage looking for my keys. I tore the house inside out. I searched the shed, my vehicle, all around the yard and driveway and tore the house up again. Still, no keys. Three days later, I’m standing there next to kitchen cookie jar, half crazed with rage and a lack of sleep. For some reason I still cannot comprehend to this day, a little voice in my head said, ‘look in the cookie jar’. Hey, maybe it was that guy in the mirror!

I actually argued with myself for a moment or two.

“Don’t be stupid. What would my keys be doing in the cookie jar?”

Once I quit arguing with myself, I lifted the lid and Voila! There was my entire set of keys nestled among the biscotti. For months afterward I argued with and berated myself about those keys in the cookie jar.  I argued with that guy in the mirror too. What in the world was going on in my head that would cause me to take a bunch of keys and a car fob and toss them into a damn cookie jar?

But see, now, I have someone to blame for it. It’s the guy in the mirror. He can’t remember anything and, apparently, he likes to take my stuff when I’m not looking and put it in places where I can’t find it and wouldn’t think to look. He’s done a lot of that with my tools when I’m working on something. I’ll set a pair of channel locks right next to me while I’m working and the next thing I know, after a half hour of crazed searching, I find them on the other side of the car. I didn’t put them there. It’s that guy in the mirror. I should tell him to quit moving my stuff, especially when I’m trying to use it.

This is the same guy who must have thought it was hysterical when I couldn’t find my Costco card. It took me two weeks to find out he had left it at the store. The people at Costco looked at me with pity when I went to retrieve it. I could hear them whispering among themselves as I left.

This guy in the mirror is the same one who forgets stuff at the grocery store all the time and has to go back repeatedly. The result of three trips to the store for a box of cereal is that the box now costs fourteen dollars including gas. (He told me he hates lists, says it’s just something else you have to remember.) He’s also the guy who sometimes picks up the wrong nozzle at the gas station, forgetting that he has a diesel car. And we won’t even talk about what happens when he goes some place he’s never been before. If it wasn’t for GPS this guy would turn a drive to Las Vegas into a global circumnavigation. That’s why I always make him take food and water in the car.

Who is that guy in the mirror? Me, I have a darn sharp memory. I know this because I annoy my friends and acquaintances with the ability to play their conversations back like a tape recorder in my head, word for word. They hate that. The guy in the mirror forgets to pull his zipper up when he leaves the house.

When something is gone and I can’t find it, this guy in the mirror always looks like he is as stressed as I am.  He’s got the same fragged out look on his face that I do. What’s annoying is that he never helps. He never speaks up and says ‘go look in the cookie jar’. What’s the point? I should have a talk with this guy, especially if he’s going to stay here.

I’ve decided that getting older is a real battle, mentally and emotionally, not just physically. I don’t like it one bit but the alternative is not attractive. It’s why I tell people not to complain about their birthday. You have two choices. You can have a birthday, or you can stop having them.

Me, I’m trapped in a Twilight Zone-like dilemma. In my head, I’m still 35 or 40 years old. I pick up and handle more weight in a day than most people handle in a month. I’m still wearing the same pants size, and in some cases, the same pants I was wearing twenty years ago. Last year I hiked one of the seven toughest hikes in Arizona with someone twenty six years my junior and lived to tell about it. I still find thirty and forty year old women very attractive but they look at me like I fell out of an archaeological find in a glacier. I don’t feel old, unless it’s one of those days when I shoveled fifteen tons of rock.

My hair isn’t white yet but there’s just enough of it on the sides to automatically make the sixteen year old behind the counter give me the senior discount without even asking. I hate that but I hate it even more when they ask.

They ought to offer a ‘confused and bewildered’ discount. Now that, I qualify for. I don’t know who I should be dating. The forty year olds look hot to me but the sixty five year olds who play bingo five times a week and outweigh me scare me. I’m caught in between. Both groups come with enough luggage to sink the Titanic, again.

I’m not going quietly into the night. The guy in the mirror can go if he wants, but I’m going to kick and fight and rebel. I don’t know what good it will do but I’m going to do it. I’m going to break all the rules or break a hip trying. Only after my teeth and my hair are completely artificial and my medications outnumber my vitamins, will I admit to being ‘old’. Then I will throw in the towel, but not until I’ve wiped the rice pudding off my face.

Ethan Holmes is the author of six books including the acerbically funny, Live Your Life In A Crap Free Zone.

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About Ethan Holmes

Ethan Holmes currently resides in Northern Arizona and he is the author of seven published books; Earth's Blood, The Keystone, A Multi-Pack of Brain Flakes, Shorts and Other Laundry, Live Your Life In A Crap Free Zone, Water. and his new novella, The Town of Perfect. When he is not writing Ethan is also a professional freelance nature photographer.
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