My father never skipped a day of shaving or he’d have a beard in two days. I’m not sure how old I was when observing Dad closely, but I do recall studying his morning ritual.
He’d mix soap and water with a small brush in what looked like an oversized coffee mug without a handle. He dipped and swirled the brush into the mug until it lathered up, and then painted his face in a circular motion. He stared into the mirror, picked up his razor, and began slowly wiping away the foam on his face.
His contorted his face in a lot of different ways while looking at himself in the mirror and carefully moved the razor over his face. Occasionally, he winced, took a mean look at the razor, and then carried on until the blade had taken away all the foam and the beard along with it. Sometimes he got a little wax pencil and dabbed his face, or he’d tear a tiny piece of toilet paper (who first came up with that idea?) and stick it on his face to soak up blood caused by a razor nick.
Then he wiped down his face with a towel and slapped on some cologne - after shave he called it - that sometimes came with some sting.
I was young and never looked forward to the day I’d be shaving (nor did I look forward to the day I would get to cut the grass). But those days did eventually come. My blades were better than dad’s and I never had to make my own soap in a mug, but I’ve had my share of nicks, and toilet paper pieces on my face.
Somewhere around the age of 15, I began that morning ritual. Oh, sure, there were a few days I’d skip here and there but, by and large, it was an everyday occurrence for the past 47 years.
That is until this November.
It was on November 3 that I told (asked?) my wife that I was going to let my beard grow for the rest of the month.
She shrugged and gave me her blessing.
I’d never had so much as a mustache. Ever. I’m losing hair on the top of my head at a rather rapid rate, but it grows well out of my ears and sometimes out of my forehead! So why not a beard?
My No Shave November would be a fundraiser for a Christian ministry that is close to my heart. I was going to give every day to the ministry and asked friends on Facebook to match me each day. I posted new photos showing the beard’s progress. We reached the fundraising goal several days ahead of schedule. Praise the Lord!
The beard began coming in better than I thought it might and never was a nuisance or even itchy.
My wife had a family emergency and was away 10 days in November. Even though she saw the photos on Facebook, when she saw me at the airport, where I picked her up after being away for almost two weeks, she had a puzzled look.
“It’s just different,” she assured me. “I’m not used to it. It needs a little trimming up maybe.”
My translation: She doesn’t like it.
I kept it going and now, with the calendar turning to December, it’s time to make a decision. Should it stay or should it go?
The last day of November also happens to be my wife’s birthday. I may have the perfect gift and it’s only a close shave away.
MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at email@example.com