The fatigued man in the mirror

Published 9:12 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

In the otherwise unremarkable experience of getting a haircut the other day, I had an opportunity to see myself in the mirror.

Actually, I have that opportunity on a daily basis. I’m just too scared to look.

Anyway, sitting in the chair waiting for someone to cut my hair, I saw myself.

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I felt like I was seeing every wrinkle, every gray hair — there’s been a lot more since my daughter was born — and every flaw I had. And there’s a lot of those.

But mostly, I saw fatigue. I saw a completely worn out and tired face.

In that moment, I wanted to close my eyes and see if I could sleep my way back to the fresh, young, boyish face I used to have, and a body that hasn’t seen so much pizza, chips and a plethora of empty calories. My stomach would argue about those being empty calories, though.

I thought about that lost sleep as I was sitting in the chair, watching the thousands of gray hairs falling off my head and beard. I was thinking there needs to be a sleep bank in which deposits or withdrawals of sleep could be made, or at least get sleep loans or grants. Or maybe I could check out sleep from the library, so I could use my library card to get three weeks’ worth, and then have limitless renewals.

Then again, such a bank would probably go out of business because no one would be making deposits. And everyone would stop checking out books from the library because they were hoarding the sleep checkouts.

It’s amazing the things that I think about when the hair stylist is cutting my hair and I zone out to the world while trying not to stare at the fatigued Neanderthal look-alike staring back at me. I also think about the way I talk in rambling, run-on sentences.

Of course, I can’t go all Cher and turn back time, but if every falling gray hair being cut off my head was a minute’s sleep, I might catch up on all the lost sleep in about 100 years, give or take 50.

Much of that lost sleep has been in the last two-plus years my daughter has graced us with her presence.

Most recently that came with some unexplained middle-of-the-night crying. She took two hours to go to sleep, then was waking up every half-hour, so my wife and I shared responsibility for trying to get her back to sleep. All the while, we were both trying to diagnose her crying.

Are you sick? Are you itchy (her word for hurt)? Are you hot? Are you upset?

Through her tears and sobbing, we couldn’t diagnose anything. All we could do was try to soothe her and see if she would go back to sleep.

Lullabies, rubbing her back, holding her hand — they all would get her back to sleep, but no sooner had we left her room thinking she was asleep, she would wake up and cry some more.

Eventually, after my fourth time of doing this, I used one of her large stuffed animals as a pillow and grabbed a blanket from her closet and made camp for the rest of the night.

That did the trick, and after too short of a period of time, she was awake and tapping me on my back.

“Dada! Dada! Wake up!”

That’s when the hair stylist asked me to look at myself again, and took me out of my zoned-out, hypnotic state.

“How does it look?”


“Your hair, how does it look?”

“Good, thanks.”

While it felt like she subtracted five pounds of hair from my head, I think the bags under my eyes got bigger.

I think it’ll be another few months before I look in the mirror again.

Right about the time I need another haircut.