I was thinking about the haircut I’d gotten in New York earlier in the week. The barber tied a dark blue apron around my neck, and it seemed as if all the freshly trimmed hair falling on it was either gray or white. So here it is at last, the distinguished thing, I told myself with an invisible shrug of pretended indifference to the all too visible evidence of the downward slope. Of course there are worse things than being on the verge of your fiftieth birthday—starting, needless to say, with the alternative—but that doesn’t make it any cheerier to contemplate, or easier to explain to younger friends still full of great expectations and innocent of grim foreknowledge. In middle age you find yourself saying goodbye to all that, a dream at a time, until one day the winds grow colder/And suddenly you’re older….
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