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The power of gray

POSTED: November 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.

We have a new president and I make it a point not to delve into politics in this space.

  

But the one thing about Barack Obama I will take note of is that he will be the first president that is younger than me.

  

I am now closer to 50 than I am to 40. AARP has me on its radar screen.

  

For some reason, I have always thought of presidents of the United States as older guys. George Washington was 57 when he became president, but he had that white hair that made him look older.

  

It’s not an easy job being president. Look at any picture of our recent presidents when they took office, then look at them when they left. They are gray and tired looking.

  

But I have always liked a little gray on folks in certain occupations.

  

I like a medical doctor with a little gray. Dr. Cleve Ward was our doctor when I was a kid. I thought he was about 90. He had gray hair and a gray moustache to match. He had an overly dry manner. But there was something that just made you know that this guy was your doctor and was going to make you feel better.

  

When I went to the cardiologist for a little heart scare earlier this year, the guy was my age or younger and carried around a laptop computer.

  

He was very good and I have no complaints. It’s just that I was partial to a guy with gray temples and a manila folder. I also like pilots with a little gray.

  

The last time I flew on an airliner, one of the pilots looked like his mother had to drive him to work. He had on the airline uniform, but he wore his dress shirt just a tad loose around the neck, as young guys like to do.

  

I would have preferred that they just slip him in the cockpit without me noticing.

  

Then, they could have hired some actor with a confident look that said, “I’ve been flying these birds a long time.” Just let him walk down the aisle and make us feel good.

  

I have a friend, Richard Glass, who is a dentist. He, too, has a slight touch of gray. I’ve always been comfortable going to friends who are dentists, but have a different feeling about friends who are medical doctors. It’s one thing if your friend asks you about your molars or bicuspids. But if your doctor pal wants to talk about your most recent physical, forget it.

  

Since I drive old cars, I like my mechanics with a little snow on the roof. Wendell Ramey, who has resurrected my vehicles from the valley of the shadow of death, has a head of salt and pepper.

  

I’ve reached the point that I also like preachers with a nice touch of authoritarian gray. My pastor, Bill Coates, has a head of hair that is white as driven snow. He said it was not that way until I became a member of the church. Heavy duty sinners can be a burden, I guess.

  

As for me, gray hair is not the issue, it’s waviness. Mine is waving goodbye.

  

Harris Blackwood is the author of “When Old Mowers Die.” His e-mail address is harrisb@forsythnews.com.

 

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