There's no use beating about the bushy presence that once occupied my cheeks. Yesterday, I shaved off my beard.
It's hard to pinpoint what motivates me to shave off the face-hedge and face the world again. I've grown about a dozen of them now, and each time they come off the decision strikes like a thunderbolt. I get into the house and the clippers are in my hand before the key leaves the lock. (This is because I've been so focused on shaving that I've neglected to remove the keys from the lock, where they stay for the next several hours until they are discovered by a family member, or a neighbor, or the drifter whom that indolent pothead in 2F buzzed in again.) Sometimes the beard leaves in stages, from the Clyde to the Zappa to the What-Now?. But this time it was off in a trice, from cheek to chaff in four minutes. Several events brought this about.
- I'm going to a wedding celebration dinner on Saturday, and the groom recently told me I will be the oldest person there. Beards are great for stroking when you want to appear lost in thought, but they do tend to age a man. If I'm to be the elder statesman at this dinner, I might as well look as youthful as possible while I demand a sodium-free meal and a seat by the men's room.
- Beards are also great defenses against the cold, which New York has apparently outlawed. We're into February now, and we've had at most a few flurries, none of which have stuck (despite breathless predictions to the contrary). Yesterday it was 60 degrees, and I spent my commute home sweating in my coat and clawing at my face.
- The beard began as a sympathy exercise for my father, a/k/a LOGD, who will likely be prohibited from shaving until June. Dad was originally grumpy about having to abandon his smoooooth lifestyle, but now all he ever talks about is The Flattery. He's so distinguished, they say. Rugged, they say. The man is clearly rocking it, and therefore needs no "sympathy" from me.
I admit I have been feeling my age lately, thinking about how my life is more than half over and stuff. Watching your kids grow can do that to you, make you feel older and colder (see the last line in E.B. White's "Once More to the Lake"). Case in point:
- Most nights, the boys and I play "High Five Jeopardy." We watch the show (doing our best to blot out the know-it-all resmugnance of Alex Trebek), and every time I guess the question the boys and I slap the flesh. Last night, Robert answered one on his own. It's true. Trebek started talking about the fifth planet from the sun, and out of nowhere came "What is Jupiter?" I was so temporarily flabbergasted I couldn't defend myself when TwoBert yelped "HIGH FIVE!" and knocked my glasses off.
- Not to be outdone, TwoBert got out of his high chair ten minutes later, shed his diaper, and dropped a log in the dog-dish pottything.
Time is inexorable. Some day, well after TwoBert has learned to routinely defecate outside his pants, Robert will get on to Jeopardy! and give Ken Jennings a run for his money. And I will be huddled under an afghan in the Rest Home's TV lounge, watching proudly and secretly wishing Robert would walk over to Trebek, flick him in the nose, and say "Stop it."