Tuesday, February 27, 2018


A while back I wrote a column on the Quest for Youthfulness. The desire to stay young, or at least give the appearance of staying young, is an obsession with many here in the USA. This is not to say it isn't a quest for others around the world. An Email asked why didn't I mention Ponce de Leon, a pioneer in the pursuit of eternal youthfulness? Good point.

Juan Ponce de Leon, or simply “Ponce” as we Floridians call him, is prominent in both legend and real life. While his contemporaries did not record many things that would help poor columnists many decades later, there are some things we do know for certain. In real life he came from a family of distinction, served as a soldier in combat, endured his share and more of political hassle. AND, if he didn't actually discover Florida he was the one who named our state. Beyond Florida, Ponce de Leon sailed around Caribbean waters to such sunny shores as Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. He was a conquistador in noble company with Cortes, Pizarro, Coronado and de Soto, all men of fame in discovering and/or conquering vast territories for the Spanish Empire. We even have a town down here named Ponce de Leon (population just short of 600 souls.)

What Ponce de Leon did NOT do was embark on expeditions to discover the vitality-restoring waters we still refer to as Fuente de la Juventud - The Fountain of Youth. His mission was to acquire as much gold and territory for the Crown of Spain as possible. Period. The whole story of his looking for a fountain of youth started shortly after his demise from a poisoned arrow wound inflicted when fighting the native people who didn't take kindly to the idea of being conquered and enslaved. The consensus is that those who wrote about Ponce and the Fountain of Youth were doing so more for merriment of their readers than recording history. Still the Fountain of Youth yarn was a godsend to cosmetic firms and countless spin-offs that promise rejuvenation.

Our land is also peopled by those who swear you can gain youthful behavior from a pint or two of Guinness. Indeed after three or four more, childish behavior is sure to kick in.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Where does “good grooming” stop and idiocy start?  Recent photography is having a field day with some of our prominent political and/or show business personalities. Comments about outrageous suntans, overly-whitened teeth, hair dye, ill-fitting toupees and a range of other falsifications are rampant in the press and elsewhere.

It's as if someone left the door open at Madame Tussards Wax Works and the figures on display have escaped into the real world.

The current poster boy for over-the-top outrage is Steve Wynn, late the fundraising guru at the Republican National Committee, whose quest for Eternal Youth has him sporting a hair dye rarely – if ever - seen on a human head. Matching that up with a stretched wax complexion and rows of blinding white teeth have served a huge helping of delight to a hungry media.

Yes, there is a case to be made for staying attractive and prolonging youthfulness. There better be, for companies round the world have billions of dollars invested in that premise. Women bear the brunt of this mania for youthfulness; they have been pushed and prodded from early on to be “cute” or “hot” or “sexy”. Not so much the males. While muscular physiques soon enough run south, a blue blazer, success or money can atone for these shortcomings.  In the main, guys don't care what other guys look like. Not so for women. Men and women alike still check out the looks of females. It's not a fair world.

For men, what are the answers for retaining at least some visual decency? There are several: Cut down on the suds to give your stomach a fighting chance of avoiding a “Santa Claus” belly. Ditto skipping the “all you can eat” menus. Be the best you can be, then adopt a “what you see is what you get” philosophy. Avoid pretending and camouflaging. Be authentic. However, If you are determined to have a toupee to hide a bald head, at least spend the money and buy a good one that is professionally fitted. Don't save a few bucks by buying this week's toupee bargain. It's not a bargain. That el cheapo $49.95 rug is simply a magnet that attracts every eye in the room.

For women: God already made you special, so relax a bit and enjoy you being you.