The other day I was in a diner with a friend and the waitress told me I had a nice tan and asked where I had been. It was the second time in a week I was complimented on my tan. I was surprised both times. Even though I’ve been to the tropics recently, I didn’t actively seek a tan. In fact, I stayed out of the sun as much as possible.
But more than that, my surprise was more a function of the fact that I don’t look in the mirror very often. When I get out of the shower, I run a comb through my simple haircut three or four times just to look presentable. But I don’t need a mirror to brush my teeth and I don’t shave all that often.
I just don’t look at myself very often. I don’t know if it’s an age thing and not liking what I see or if it’s that I’ve lost whatever vanity I may have had.
I still recognize myself but I’m changing. Every time I get my hair cut, I’m a little shocked by how much white hair ends up on the cape. Or how long the barber has to spend on my eyebrows and ears.
I remember an old girlfriend telling me one of the saddest moments her mother experienced was looking into a mirror and not recognizing herself. That hasn’t happened to me yet.
But my beard is greyer than I would have anticipated. I still have my hair but that might change soon.
So I didn’t even know I had a tan. Perhaps when we get older, we see ourselves less through a mirror’s reflection than we do through our own reflections.