Sushil and Tina Mohan were friends of friends, whom we met occasionally at parties and weddings. We had moved out of their town some years ago, so it was a pleasant surprise to bump into them at the breakfast buffet at a holiday resort. Rather, I bumped into Tina and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast together, as the men were both out for an early round of golf. We spoke about our mutual friends, when we had last met them, our children, my grandchildren, and our lives in general. Tina looked at my few strands of white hair and laughed, "You are so lucky to not have to dye your hair."
I gave due credit to my mother's wonderful genes, and admired Tina's long and lustrous mane and youthful looks "You look very young, Tina. And in any case you are much younger than I am."
Tina sighed. "I've been dyeing my hair for years now, which is part of the problem. I look young, so Sushil insists on dyeing his hair and moustache."
"Is that a problem?" I asked, bemused.
"Yes, he's had a terrible rash for the past few months, which the dermatologist says is caused by a reaction to chemicals in the dye. And the doctor says this could lead to skin cancer, but he still insists on dyeing his hair and moustache. He just doesn't listen to any one."
I was shocked. Was looking young so important? I knew that nicotine and alcohol were physiological addictions, but a psychological compulsion such as this was really strange.
"I doubt if he would listen to me, but I will try and talk to him about this," I said, before we went our separate ways. To dye or not to dye is a very personal decision. The spouse now has plenty of salt among the pepper, but has never been bothered by it. We both seem to believe in comfort/laziness before vanity, but, as I said, I have nothing against hair dyeing in general.
The spouse and I had a relaxed weekend. He played golf. I swam in the pool, enjoyed the sauna, and read to my heart's content. We'd bump into the Mohans at the restaurant, and exchange pleasantries, but I didn't find the opportunity to have a little tete-a-tete with Sushil.
The afternoon before our departure I went to the local market to pick up a few souvenirs. The spouse was golfing. Tina had gone for a session at the spa. A very neatly groomed Sushil appeared, fresh from the ministrations of the local barber. He was in his mid-fifties, dapper, balding, with jet black, obviously dyed hair, which, to my eyes at least, didn't make him look particularly young. He gallantly offered to carry my shopping back to the resort, and I gladly accepted, glad for the opportunity to talk to him in confidence about his 'dyeing' issues! He was an easy conversationalist, and even before I could organize my thoughts, he started telling me about the rash, and the dyeing, and the dermatologist's advice, and the second specialist whom he consulted (who had the same advice as the first: stop dyeing!) and so on.
"But why must you dye your hair? I'm sure you will look fine even if you go grey".
"I'll stop dyeing my hair if Tina stops dyeing hers".
His tone was petulant.
"But she has no problem with hair dyes, so why should she stop? Besides, you are the one with medical issues. It's certainly not worth risking your health for something so trivial."
That seemed logical to me.
"Because she'll look younger than ever. I'll look too old to be with her. People will think I'm her dad or her uncle or something."
His reasoning seemed specious. I was inspired, for once, and countered his idiocy with an idiocy of my own.
" You'll look very very rich. People will assume that you are a rich, distinguished gentleman who can afford to have such a lovely young wife."
My line of reasoning seemed to appeal to him. We had reached the lobby. I thanked Sushil and took my bags from him. We left early the next morning, so I don't know whether he plans to follow my advice or not! However, our mutual friends' son is getting married in a month or so, and we do plan to attend. We will know then whether Sushil Mohan practices vanity before sanity or vice versa.
Photo: the back of the RE's head!