IT'S OFFICIAL. I'm an old man.

I had been in denial until now. After all, I'm still able to do 60 pushups, I can run a mile in a pinch, and most importantly, I can still get frisky without popping those little blue pills.

Still, the signs of my impending old age have been there for quite some time. My hairline started receding years ago, forcing me to go with the Milk Dud look. And though I have yet to apply Fixodent and forget it, two of my molars were early casualties in my war against Baby Ruth and Doublemint.

Despite all that, I've always managed to consider myself a relatively young man. Sure, I had to give up slang several years ago after an unfortunate incident in which I told a young woman that she should "rock that hat." And I admit that my 16-year-old saw me attempt a contemporary dance move and uttered the words, "No, Dad . . . Just, no!"

I'm not saying I'm one of those guys trying to hold onto his 20s by wearing baseball caps and football jerseys. Nor am I one of those guys who spends his evenings hanging out with his boys. Nope. I'm pretty comfortable with the fact that I'm a husband and father who's fast approaching 41, and I live my life just like I wear my pants - not quite as high as Fred Mertz and not nearly as low as Young Jeezy.

I've always known that I would get old someday. I didn't know someday was now. That is, until I asked my wife to rub some Vaseline onto my back the other night.

Ever the dutiful wife, LaVeta did what I asked, and she made a horrible discovery.

"What's this?" she said, pulling something that was protruding from my back.

"What's what?"

She leaned in closer and squinted. "It looks like a . . . Oh Lord, Solomon, you've got a gray hair on your back."

I didn't believe her, so she pulled the hair again.

"Ow!" I said, but the pain was more than physical. It was a deep-down pain that only an old man could feel.

It was the pain of knowing that my toes, which have always been hideous, would soon be adorned by really thick toenails. It was the pain of realizing that my creaky knees would soon lock up just like the Tin Man's. It was the pain of knowing that those little blue pills might someday find their way into the bag of tricks I like to call Love Jones.

In the moment that LaVeta pulled that stubborn little gray hair, I knew that I'd crossed some cosmic line in the sand that separates young from old. Even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't have turned back.

The funny thing about it was that I'd had gray hair before. Heck, if I allowed my baldy to grow out, my head would be so white you'd try to ski on it. But back hair? That was different. That was . . . older.

For a guy like me, who normally doesn't even have hair on his back, getting a gray one is like slathering on some Bengay. It smells funny. It burns a little, too. But once the pain goes away, you get used to it.

That's how I feel about my gray back hair. I've gotten used to it. This is not to say I'm loving the gray back hair. In fact, I'm suspicious. Even now, I'm wondering if that single hair is trying to recruit others, or worse, slowly snaking its way up my back and around my head for the ultimate old-man combover.

Whatever that gray back hair is doing, one thing's for sure. If it's gonna be a part of me, it had better be in for the long haul, because this old man's planning on getting a whole lot older. *

Solomon Jones' column appears every Saturday. He can be reached at