When I was a boy, I’d sometimes watch my father stand at the bathroom sink doing one of his daily rituals. He’d shave. Back then, he used a natural bristle brush with a wooden handle, shaving soap, and a straight edge razor. To me, with only peach fuzz to claim, shaving was a rite of passage I couldn’t wait for. Only then would I be a real man. Even girls go through some kind of… hmmm… it’s not the same thing, but we all go through periods of pubescence.
One day, probably when I was around nine-years-old, he let me stand on a stool in front of the bathroom mirror, lather up, and slide his razor across my cheeks to “shave.” Without a blade, of course. For a fleeting moment, I felt older.
When I was thirteen, maybe fourteen, a lone hair sprouted out of my chin. I woke up one morning and there it was, my very own facial hair. For real. Suddenly, I felt a little bit closer to manhood. I was maturing. It was about a quarter of an inch long and I wasn’t about to lop it off. It was my machismo mark; the leap to future strength and optimum virility. It was there for the world to see! So I let it grow. And grow. All of my relatives saw it and said something. Yes, I was glad they noticed. It grew some more.
“You must be proud of that lonely hair,” my grandfather once remarked. Darn right I was!
Fortunately for me, it grew during the summer recess months, so not many of my classmates saw it.
One morning, I got up, looked in the mirror and the darned thing was at least three inches long with a light curl or two. What was I trying to do? The more I looked at it, the more ridiculous it appeared. The more ridiculous I felt inside.
“This is stupid looking,” I thought, so I got my father’s old razor out of the medicine cabinet and chopped it off. Gone!
That morning, I became mature enough to realize how dumb I looked. Just who was I trying to impress besides myself? I knew then that I had made the transition from boyhood to – well, I wasn’t really sure yet because… I was still waiting for my voice to change!