x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

All is fair in the ageing game

I secretly like it when my husband looks scruffy and unkempt, but he doesn't know the real reason why.

Mr T is sometimes teased about the significant increase of silver amid his head of thankfully thick hair. It is one of those predominantly Arab comments that I abhor: a half-joking, half-serious throwaway remark that the man with the salt-and-pepper hair must surely have a wife at home who is driving him nuts and ageing him prematurely.

Mr T's hair has been heavy on the salt lately, and the change is even more apparent when he allows it to grow. I am biased enough to find my husband attractive regardless of the frequency of his barber visits, but I don't think it's solely love, blinded as it may be, that makes me so accepting.

I secretly like it when Mr T looks scruffy and unkempt, and I have my reasons, as embarrassing as they may be.

I don't mind when Mr T's stubble begins to demand its own mailing address. I never point out that his sideburns are about to overrun his ears. I have a secret affinity for the torn jeans, the muddy sneakers and the faded T-shirt with the hole in the armpit.

When I catch him looking in the mirror, inspecting the takeover of silver atop his own head, I hold my breath and pray that today will be the one day when he won't turn to me and tease, with that undertone of seriousness, that he wants to dye his hair.

"Why not? How come you get to dye your hair and I don't?" He asks me, in mock despair.

Mr T dyeing his hair would be too much for me to handle. If he ever decides to go through with the bluff, I know I'll field a panic attack.

See, my dreadful little secret is that the pleasure I get out of Mr T's occasionally bedraggled appearance is a mere reflection of my selfishness. Those are the times when I get to look younger than him, and if not hotter, then at the same level in the spectrum of attractiveness.

When I first met him and introduced him to family and friends, quite a few commented on his good looks.

"Wow, he's hot - hotter than you, even!"

Those people - and they know who they are - will never be able to redeem themselves.

Those observations stuck with me. He is only a year older than I am; I have to work hard at appearing fresh and young beside my "hot" husband. Is it any wonder I would rejoice at his silver temples?

He may not have noticed, but the more torn the jeans and the more faded the T-shirt, the more obvious my retaliation. That's when I choose the bright and hip blouse, the control-top jeans and the soaring stilettos. During those days when he is in need of a barber visit, I schedule weekly appointments at a hairdresser. My locks have never been so shiny.

And I think I've taken care of any preposterous ideas he may have had of camouflaging his silver. My most recent outburst at the unfairness of a society that marks a man as mature and distinguished when he sports a little bit of grey but a woman as dowdy and ageing when hers begins to show, has probably frightened him off the subject. I may or may not have resorted to tears, which, incidentally, always work.

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