Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Beards, a perk of retirement

Layout 1 (Page 1)I managed to quietly pass thru town for a couple of days last week and, oh boy how do you people cope with all that noise, traffic, and such?

Maybe it’s just me but I recall the days when we thought a traffic jam was composed of four cars at a four way stop sign. Not so much anymore.

It wasn’t that long ago when my 6 a.m. morning commute was mostly just me. Not so much anymore on that one too. The other day it was bumper to bumper to Bismarck and most folks seemed to be on their cell phones, which left me to wonder, “Who are these people talking to at 6 a.m.?”

Then if you really want to see some traffic take a drive during what radio advertisers consider prime time – 7 to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m…. it will affirm that we’ve become a metropolitan area.

But you probably know all that and both of my loyal readers might recall that I’ve been out in the wilds of Tschida where a traffic jam is when a golf cart and ATV meet on a trail between cabins or when there’s more than one boat filling gas at the North Shore.

While in town I found time to stop at Anytime Fitness hoping to slip in a workout between chores. One of the things that evidently happens during one’s hermitage is I put off shaving, which makes me think I can grow a beard (my family informed me that once one retires they are entitled to do such things).

However, since my whiskers itch my neck I’ve been shaving my neck every few days and have now ended up with a goatee. Thus, after a significant absence, I ran into a lot of friends I haven’t seen and it seemed like every one of them had to give my goatee a tug and tell me how scruffy I looked.

So I reviewed the activities of my hermitage and have to admit that we retired lake folks really don’t look in the mirror much. We evidently become one with our surrounding and are too distracted to pay much attention to our hygiene and wardrobe… and it doesn’t take long for us to deteriorate into something close to swamp things.

Eventually the stench of our clothes gets so bad that we are forced to do laundry. In my case we don’t have a washer or dryer so I use 5-gallon pails. A gray one for wash and green one for rinse; I will leave the details on that from here… however, it does work.

So there I was in town and running into all sorts of folks who take better care of themselves than we hermits… and everyone seemed to notice that I had become rather scruffy, so I looked in the mirror and noted that my tank top not only had holes in it but paint drippings and other weird looking stains. My shorts had holes in the butt and my chin was covered in this scruffy looking gray hairs.

So rather than conform I completed my town tasks, and quickly returned to my hermitage where I spent a moment thinking about my appearance before heading out to fish for a while where I let the thought pass until now.

And what brought all this up Dan? Well, I gotta spend most of next week in town and thus have to conform to a citified dress code (like long pants, polo shirt, shoes and such) and traffic and schedules and meetings and I really do enjoy not worrying about such things.

Here’s hoping you can drop a few of your worries when you need to…