It's been raining a lot lately and that's been keeping me inside a lot, just looking at the walls a lot, and it's gotten me to thinking too much and remembering too much and hey, twenty-nine years ago tonight I shaved for the first time!
I remember it as if it were only a quarter-century ago, such a masculine milestone it was, and it was on that night of the junior high school winter concert in the cafeteria that my clarinet and I fell into throbbing manhood. Not that anything specific happened, other than the shave, to make the date indelible. The only other recollection I have of the night is that, coincidentally, we wheezed through the "Gillette Look Sharp March," the theme song from the razor blade company and, apparently, the evening's soundtrack to my hairy coming out.
The shave itself was a bloodless coup. For weeks, maybe months, my parents had been harping on me to get rid of the fuzz on my cheeks, and I think it was mostly for political reasons. The Vietnam war was raging and in deepest Orange County youths like me were obliged to either slouch toward the hippie look or stand up and be shorn in the manner of a military recruit. I was ambivalent about the war and my face, and found comfort in putting things off. But here I was dressing up for a public performance, and looking in the mirror at myself in coat and tie and little downy lambychops sealed the deal. I was inordinately fluffy. Off came my coat and tie, out came my dad's razor, and down the drain went my delicate dark wisps of boy fur.
Almost three decades later I find myself getting fluffy again, but in places where I don't dare drag a razor. I have little scissors for the beard in my nose and ears and now do a weekly snip. I've been finding delinquent eyebrow hairs too and they've become the subject of my latest ambivalence. Should I let them grow up and out to give me that professorial countenance or should I nip them in the bud? Maybe I'll just snip them until they go gray. Then I'll get bushy and scatterbrained, wear tweed, and feign a British accent.
Scatterbrainedness may have already snuck a few of its tendrils into me. I've always had a good memory, but in the last few years I have noticed a decline in my short-term recollection. I attribute this to age, as opposed to distraction or a tumor, and I'm comfortable with that. When introduced to someone, I forget their name within nanoseconds unless I perform some trick of memory like associating the person with an animal or a number or a smell or whatever it is I last learned on The Discovery Channel or PBS or Oprah, I forget.
When you've lived as long as I have, just about every day on the calendar has some event associated with it, thus making it easier to remember scheduled events or appointments. For example, I'm supposed to see my urologist on March 28th. March is the month of my birthday and the 28th I associate with July 28th, the first day of a favorite and long-anticipated summer beach vacation we took when I was ten. So all I have to do is imagine my urologist coming to my birthday party at the beach, toss out July and plug in March, and bingo, I'm as good as there.
Hey. This is what guys my age talk about. They may not be interesting guys, but they're my age and that's the important thing. You wanna know about getting older? Come see me. Can't remember your next date with the rubber glove? Use my scientific techniques and it'll be as plain as the hair in the nose on my face.
Yeah, I know, let's hope the rain stops.
"Oh, You Crazy Moon" -- Chet Baker -- CHET BAKER: VERVE JAZZ MASTERS 32
"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."
- Francis Bacon