"Dad, can you teach me to shave?"
Now I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by this question. After all our years together, Corb had finally reached puberty!
No, no, no...just kidding. Seriously! Let me start this story again.
Of course, the person asking the question was Theo. And I know, I know, it's a perfectly natural question, one that you expect a son to ask his father.
But here's the deal: Theo's had a little mustache for probably two years. We are from swarthy Greek stock, after all. Even our mustaches have mustaches.
Now, I don't want to give you the impression that he's let his mustache grow, all this time. Seriously, it would have touched the floor by now. However, a few years ago, Josie jumped the fatherly gun and asked her fiance Andrew to buy Theo an electric razor, which he's used ever since. Or, Andrew just up and decided to buy it for him, I don't know. The details are a little foggy, after all these years.
I have to admit, when I found out, it kind of crushed me, just a little. I always saw the act of teaching your son to shave as sort of a fatherly rite of passage, like learning to ride a bike or paying for your son's first hooker.
I remember quite well when my dad taught me to shave. Of course, it involved shaving the hair off my palms, because I jerked off so much.
Just kidding! Wow, tough crowd here.
Seriously, it did deflate me, just a little. A bruise I kind of hid under my shirt sleeves. So, it was a bit of a pick-me-up to hear Thedo ask me for some actual shaving advice.
Why now? Why two years later? Theo's always kept his electric razor at Josie's, you see. And last night, on the car ride home, he started to casually mention that he needed to take a shower that night, because he's gotten to that age where he realizes it's no fun walking around stinking like a sweaty race horse all the time. And, oh, by the way, wouldn't it be great if he could shave at my place?
No problem, says I. I'll just pick up a razor on the way home.
"What do you use?" he asked.
"Oh, you wouldn't like mine, if you're used to electric razors," I said. "I'll get you a nice one that won't ever cut you."
That night, after his shower, he came out of the bathroom, a little sheepish. "So, um, how do I use this thing?" he asked.
I grinned, sensing the rite of passage was at hand.
"Now, this is shaving cream," I said, handing him a green and white can.
The expression on his face said it all, but he felt obliged to add: "I know that, Dad, I'm not a moron."
"Just put it on, smartass."
"Oh, not that much."
Corb stuck his head in the bathroom (how it had become disconnected from his body is beyond me.) "Here's what I do," he said. "Take some shaving cream and place it over your lip and below, on your chin. Then just take your finger and--scrape! Wipe it off your lips."
"Yeah, I don't want to eat it," said Theo.
"Why not? It's edible," said Corb, and placed his head back on his shoulders. Is it, really? I didn't know that.
"Now, I'm going to show you how to do it, using my razor. See, I spread some shaving cream on my face, and then I shave down along the mustache. Oh, and around the cheeks."
"What if I want to shave around my neck?" Theo asked.
"I usually go up, for that."
He held the razor nervously in his hand. "How hard do I press down?" he asked.
"It's not going to cut you, don't worry," I replied. "Just relax and press it down. Gently at first, if you want..." In three seconds, he had completed his lip. "Now, wipe the shaving cream off and see if there's anything left."
He wiped. "Just a little..."
"Shave them off."
"Do I need more shaving cream?" I shook my head. He paused. "Dad, can I do it with my sideburns, too?"
I was kind of surprised by that one. "You want to shave off your sideburns?"
He grinned, sheepishly. "It always hurt when I tried to use the electric razor to shave them off. I didn't like that." He took a swipe with the razor. "This doesn't hurt at all."
Five minutes later, I had a clean-shaven son without sideburns once again. "Well, there you go! Now you're a pro." I looked over at him, just a little proud.
Rather than getting maudlin or anything, we went into separate rooms.
Another rite of passage, checked off that list. It really was a good feeling, too, I have to admit. No more did I have to hide that bruise. Somewhere up above, I felt as if I had earned another badge in the Boy Scout jamboree of life.
Now, the real challenge: saving up money for that first hooker...