A SINGAPORE CREW CUT TO GET PAST THE HAIR POLICE
c.2013 New York Times News Service
I’ve been flying regularly for about 40 years. I’m 62 years old, or, as I prefer, 62 years young, and fly once a week. I have a line of skin care products named after me, and that means that I have to meet with people, do events, find new avenues for business in the United States and abroad, and even travel so I can keep up with the trends and learn new things.
A typical Monday might be waking up at 4:30 in the morning, making breakfast and then shooting out the door to catch a plane. My mom is still living, and our routine is for me to call her back in Denmark while I’m heading to the airport. I think I look forward to it as much as she does.
I don’t hate flying. I’m one of those lucky people who aren’t bothered by the typical problems of business travel. I never even suffer from jet lag, and I actually feel energized when I land.
I wasn’t always this easygoing. When I was younger, I was working in Indonesia but decided to go to Singapore for schooling. At the time, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had slightly longer hair. I was told that Singapore discouraged longer hair on men at the time and that I should probably cut it. I didn’t want to cut my hair, so I had it curled before I left. Yes, curled. It looked as ridiculous as you might think.
When I landed, I saw a poster that showed inappropriate hair length for men. Mine, even curly, wasn’t going to pass muster. An official-looking person asked me about my hair, and I said it was just curly and thick, not long. The official wasn’t buying my story, and I can’t blame him. So I cut my hair. The first cut was ridiculously bad, even worse looking than the curly hair, so I told the barber to cut all my hair off. I wound up with this crew cut that was so close to my scalp you could see the pink. I kept it like that the entire time I was living in Singapore, which actually turned into one of my favorite places in the world. I can’t say I ever really liked the crew cut, though.
I’ve made a decision to try to keep as healthy as I can, and I don’t want to let business travel interfere with that commitment. Trust me, as you do get older and if you still travel a lot for business and don’t keep up with a health routine, especially exercise, that constant travel can take a toll. I think it could take a toll on someone younger, too.
Since I fly the same routes quite a bit, I think the attendants who fly those same routes a lot are pretty used to me and my need to move around. Before things got so strict with security, I used to travel with these lightweight push-up bars, which could be dismantled and then screwed back together. They were great, but they were considered too dangerous to carry on an airplane, and they were confiscated.
So now I just stretch. No equipment is necessary. Sometimes I will get up out of my seat and do some stretches, or if I’m not jammed between two people, I’ll even do some while sitting down. My rule is to stretch every two hours while on the plane, and so far, so good. I also do 300 push-ups a day. Now, that’s tough to do on a plane, but I have tried. I even succeeded once or twice doing some push-ups, thanks to a very understanding crew.
Q: How often do you fly for business?
A: About once a week, domestic and international.
Q: What’s your least-favorite airport?
A: Los Angeles International. I hate to say that, since I’m there practically every week. It’s an OK airport, but compared to other airports, customs is really cumbersome.
Q: Of all the places you’ve been, what’s the best?
A: Singapore. I think it’s fascinating, and the people are extraordinarily friendly.
Q: What’s your secret airport vice?
A: I have a lot of vices, but none related to flying. When I fly I don’t drink or eat much, except what I bring with me.