I turned 51 last week.  It wasn’t as eventful and exciting as turning 50 was last year, but being alive for another year is a good thing.  Of course it would be an even better thing if we could eliminate minor, everyday irritations.  But we can’t do that unless we identify them first, and that’s why we have Old Man Rants, including this “First Anniversary Edition”.

What mostly inconsequential things are on my nerves lately?   

Menswear, Some Assembly Required

Who the hell is responsible for the way men’s clothes are packaged?! It’s ridiculous! Before I wore my new pair of dress socks, I had to go find the small pair of scissors (a major project on its own), then snip off those stupid little “togetherness stitches” without cutting the socks themselves. Why? Can’t we just pin the socks together with bobbie pins? Or maybe just fold them up? I googled “folding socks” and in 3 seconds found at least four better solutions than stitching them together.

And men’s dress shirts?! In a stupid plastic box?!  With all those pins?! Don’t get me started. All I’ll say is that I’d like make a voodoo doll of whoever invented that shit, and stick it with every freaking pin I’ve had to pull out of my dress shirts throughout my 51 years of life.

Hair There?:  

As I’ve said I’m over 50 and have been dealing with middle aged male hair issues for several years now, but it’s getting worse.  Receding hair on the head is not really so bad.  But why does it have to reappear in worthless places like the ear hole and the nostril? Plus no matter how many times I trim it, every morning I wake up with a crazy eyebrow- like something out of a wildlife documentary. 

I’ve become a fan of the TV show Naked And Afraid, and sometimes I daydream about what it might be like to endure 21 days in the wild like they do on the show.  But it’s all fantasy because after about five days, I would be blind, deaf, and unable to smell due to excessive middle-aged hair growth.  There’s usually a good reason why biology acts the way it does, but I don’t even have a guess on this one.

Ask Not

It’s said that most of life is a grey area, not much black or white.  But not in this case.  Ask is not a noun. Ask is a verb.  You ask someone a question.  Doing that is not “an ask”.  Ask is an action, not a thing.  I know language evolves and I want to be hip and down with the latest cool things, but sorry- this one is dumb.  I tried it, both verbally and in print, and it made me feel like that annoying kid on the prep school tennis team who drinks too much sugar and always lets you know how many times he’s been to Europe.  Saying something is a “big ask”, just makes you sound like a big ass. 

Responding To Questions With “Sure or Yeah”

Ah yes, the irritation of trendy language continues. 

Somehow it has gotten popular for media interviewees to begin their answer with “sure” or  “yeah ok”.  Sometimes, of course, this is just fine.  Like when the interviewer says, “Can you tell us what your research uncovered?”  Sure, or yeah ok, are fine there.

But when the interviewer says, “What did you discover through your research?”, the answer cannot begin with sure, or yeah ok.  Why?  Because it doesn’t make sense!  Did the interviewee discover a “sure” or a “yeah, ok” through their research? It’s like somebody asking you what time it is and you say, “cold.”  As usual, in an attempt to make themselves sound cool, they instead come off sounding incompetent with the English language.  This is grade school grammar people- come on!

Ice, Ice Baby

We recently returned from our annual trip to the beach at Wildwood, New Jersey and as we walked the boardwalk in socially distant fashion, I heard the familiar call of the water ice guy.  

As I put my mask on to enter a nearby T-shirt shop, I began to wonder once again, “What the hell is water ice? Is not all ice made of water?”  Normally, the water ice guy offers free samples to passersby, but Covid cancelled that for the year.   Does water ice  even sound appealing though? You can pretty much get water ice out of your freezer at any given moment. 

Of course water ice is what most would call Italian ice or flavored ice.  At least that sounds like something different and possibly interesting.  But water ice?  Sounds like somebody needs a marketing degree.

Covid Mask Q&A

And with Covid-19 still roaming wild and free across the country, let’s close this Rant with a Q&A session based on human behavior I’ve had the misfortune of observing recently.

Q. Does a mask really work?

A. Yes.

Q. But at first they said they don’t work or that we shouldn’t wear one.

A. True, but that was several months ago and nobody in health/science is saying that anymore.  When you check the baseball standings for your favorite team, do you check today’s paper or last month’s?  Things change man- keep up!  (I know Covid cancelled baseball so far, but you get the point.)

Q. So I should wear a mask?

A. For God’s sake YES!  We’ve been over this.

Q. But don’t I have a right to do what I want?

A. Not if it endangers other people.  You want to smoke?  Go for it, but don’t blow it in my face.  Bang your head against the wall?  It’s all you baby!  You want to eat Covid with a spoon?  You do you.  But I have a right to not have my health effected by your actions.

Q. Can’t I just hang it around my neck, or leave my nose or mouth exposed?

A. Really?  Are you dumb?

Q. But I don’t like wearing it.

A. First, that’s not a question.  Second, I don’t think anybody likes wearing them, but it sure beats increasing your chances of getting Covid or infecting somebody else. 

Q. So you’re saying I have to endure minor, personal inconvenience in order to help the greater good?


Q. Doesn’t that seem un-American to you?

A. Sadly, yes.  But it wasn’t always that way and we can change it back.

Subscribe to Five O’Clock Shadow for free and receive all new posts via email. You can also follow Five O’Clock Shadow on Facebook and Twitter.


Five O’Clock Shadow is supported by readers like you. Donations are greatly appreciated!

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount


Or enter a custom amount


Thank you very much!

Your contribution is appreciated.

Your contribution is appreciated.

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly