Presentation of Self — Age 90

This is a small story . . .

Ed walked into a local barber shop to get a haircut.  The place was busy, and he sat down on a chair over against the wall to wait his turn.  Soon after, another man came in the doorbarber pole and sat down next to him.

While they were waiting, the man next to him became very “chatty.”  In the space of a few minutes, Ed learned that the man was 90 years old, had grown up in a family of 17 children, and only he and one sister were still living.  All his years of work were spent at Oscar Mayer Food Corporation here in Madison.  He was a huge fan of Badger athletics, knew many of the coaches, and was wearing a red and white shirt, jacket, and cap — emblazoned with University of Wisconsin Bucky Badger logos.

Before long, the man and Ed had moved on to their respective barber chairs.  Ed’s barber began cutting his hair.

But the 90-year-old man was in the shop for a different purpose.  He was, in fact, getting his hair colored.

I love that.

How we present ourselves to others in our social worlds can be important all across the lifespan.  Here was a 90 year old man living his life with passion, in the moment, and in the mainstream of everyday life.


E. Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, 1959, Doubleday:  Garden City, New York.

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