Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rituals and wrinkles...


I start my day, the entry into the world of work portion, by getting the Regimental coffee mug turned into Regimental Shaving Mug down from the medicine cabinet. I take out the brush and turn on the hot water and moisten the bristles and start whipping up a froth of shaving soap. I have whipped up a froth or two elsewhere and in more exoitic places but not for my shaving, but stirring up hornets' nest has nothing on getting men to rise up and charge into combat in foolish gallantry and certain slaughter.

Just an old man's thoughts, as he whips up on the soap. Of other times and other places, which is probably why he has never seen the real face he wears in public. Once preparing to play an old man's part in a church pagent he thought about adding wrinkle lines with some eye liner or grease pencil - then looked and saw that the lines were deeply etched already - a miracle of God? or just a true measure of the blessings bestowed in his life? He remembers when as a teenager he carefully shaved with a straight razor, while his father swore by his electric, and after the careful application of English Leather or some other scent sure to succeed, and the long combing process to get his hair rolled up just right he would pronounce himself still very ugly but one of the toughest boys in school, never backing down. The old man smiles as he thinks about the fool's focus but fine false courage, no wrinkles then but lots of fears fought off.

Stop and put down the mug and brush and get a good double handful of hot water to rinse off the sleep and soften the skin and stubble. Hot water is so wonderful, remembering cold water shaves and showers or helmet baths in frozen places, so warm and loving. Time to apply the shaving foam, twirling the foam and touching bristles to beard - well, it would be a beard if he didn't cut it off. Doesn't get kissed any more for shaving than he does when whiskered - why does he cut it off? Trying to stay young? It is easier to remove the whiskers than to maintain a civilized image with a ragged beard, so he maintains the ritual. Time to prove he is still a man, must shave and make ready to meet the world. If one is going out to die make sure he has clean underwear and he has shaved. He has now a white foamy beard, he always knows what it would look like if it grew and hid the face under it.

Quickly taking up the razor, he expertly slashes soap and stubble away, wondering to himself why do all those models and actors with no hair on their chest always have two days or better worth of stubble to pose in maturity, sexy or just psuedo-sexy? Slash and rinse the blade off to slash away again. A nice close shave, drawing the sagging skin tight so the razor glides along the lubrication and cuts cleanly the hair. Check after rinsing, soft skin waiting for the woman's touch - ah, he will never ask and will always appreciate her touch. Which her? his memory asks, and the old man laughs - there were never that many that got that close, count them on one hand and happy that they were all wonderful and very special. Distracted he cuts slightly and starts to bleed a bit, must be time to finish and greet the world. Slapping on some after shave to stop the bleeding . Normal morning = spilling a bit of coffee and blood, offerings to the little gods of chance and luck.

Looking again into the mirror - and really looking - he sees a deeper crease that he doesn't remember being there yesterday. Wondering how the ten pounds of new fat hasn't found a place to hide in his face, but happy that the wrinkles all lift and crinkle around his eyes when he smiles, he must remember to smile more, his heart will be happier and yours will, too.

1 comment:

Breda said...

You've worn many faces through the years - boy, soldier, husband, father...handsome then and now, I like the new photos... but what is most attractive, by far, are the little glimpses of your soul that your writings reveal. Thank you.