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We look our age, get used to it: The planning of the 50th anniversary meeting of my high school classmates in Zagreb, Croatia is on the way. Not an easy task, however: as far as we can trace ourselves, we are scattered on four continents, probably in dozen different states (including the Other World, if it exists). At present moment, only about one third of us is located and interlinked. Many warmhearted phrases ware exchanged over the phone and email after half a century of total detachment. Now for the doubts: at one instance the merit of our meeting was questioned - nowadays we look so much ruined, it was said, that we better remember each other as we were 50 years ago.

Plate XXV (detail), in The notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, Dover, New York, 1970.

"Oh, I look so terrible, Andrew" my mother said, sitting in a rocking chair in our living room when she was 92 years old. I forget what made her think to say it and she didnít look terrible to me. She looked like my Mother.

The funny thing is through, when I look back at pieces I did for television 10 or 20 years ago, I think I look better now than the way I looked when I was younger. I looked funny and old-fashioned way back. What make me think my hair looked good that way?

Through the years my hair turned gray and the lines in my face got deeper. Inevitably, you get thinking about what you could do to look better, not so old. [...] There isnít a person alive 60 years old who hasnít considered the possibility that he or she could use a little surgical help. I suppose Iíd look better and younger. I could dye my hair dark brown, too.

The sad fact is, bad as we all look, if we look our age, we look better than if we try to do anything more about it than combing our hair and dressing neatly. Iíll give women a little makeup and a hairdo.

I look at all the people I know or whom Iíve seen on television who have had cosmetic surgery and I know a surgeon working on wrinkles doesnít make you live any longer and I have yet to see anyone I thought looked better because of it. They look different and sometimes even younger but they seldom look better and they never look like themselves again. There is a strangeness about them that never goes away. They are just a tiny bit someone you donít know.

When I look at myself on television these days and get thinking I look terrible, I think of my mother and take comfort from the fact that I may look terrible but at least I look like myself.

Andy Rooney: Living with your face, in Common nonsense, PublicAffairs, New York, 2002.

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