Full disclosure: my granddaddy was a barber for 65 years. He had one chair in his very small shop in Richards, Texas, the tiny town where I grew up in the 1950s. For most of the time I can remember he charged 50 cents for a hair cut and 25 cents for a shave. His customers usually requested both.
I was mesmerized by the swish, swish of his straight edge razor against the leather strap before he began the fascinating ritual of the shave with the white foamy shaving cream and his precision stroke of the open faced razor against each man’s face. The hot towel, the after-shave lotion. Every time I smell Old Spice I can see him shaking the bottle twice, pouring the lotion into his hands, rubbing his hands together and then carefully smoothing that lotion over his customer’s face to complete the ultimate in male pampering.
My granddaddy was a magician with scissors when he cut hair, but he was an artist with a straight edge razor blade. Ask anyone who ever had one. Ask me. When I was five or six years old, he gave me a pretend shave that I have recorded in much happy detail in my first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing. (Sheila Gets a Shave is also included in the Rainbow Radio Anthology if you have a copy.)
My point of this lengthy background is to partially explain my faux pas at our family Thanksgiving dinner last night which, by the way, was great fun with Pretty, Pretty Too, Number One Son, Sis-in-law and Brother-in-law. I could have described the evening as perfect with an excessive amount of traditional food that was mouth-watering, lots of laughter, great conversation that included agreement on the politics and sports activities of the day.
Yes, it really could have been perfect until… for some unknown reason I said to Number One Son how happy I was to see that he had no beard this year. Pretty chimed in and asked him if he was using the electric razor we bought him for Christmas (hint, hint) two years ago, and he said he was. Someone asked Pretty, Too if she preferred him with a beard or without, and Pretty, Too had the good common sense to say she really liked him either way. That should have been my signal to give the topic a rest.
Instead, the devil or the cocktails got in my head and without a filter, I began to R-A-N-T about beards and how much I HATED them – every last one of them. Why in the world can’t men just shave, for God’s sake? The more I ranted, the more I felt the rest of the group becoming very quiet. Sometime you can just feel an awkward silence descending on a gathering. You could have heard a pin drop when I stopped to catch a breath.
(l.to r.) Brother-in-law, Pretty, Pretty, Too, Number One Son
(I am the one in the front with my foot in my mouth.)
Sigh. Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect. I tried to tell Brother-in-law I didn’t mean his specific beard because his beard was really very well-groomed, but alas, Brother-in-law advised me that when I found myself in a hole, it would be better if I stopped digging. And I did.
In the end, we all parted friends and were still planning to get together at Christmas which I took as a good sign that all was forgiven. Moving on to Merry Ho Ho!!
Hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving with family and friends and that the rest of your weekend will be a fun one. I plan to lay low, no cocktails, no opinions on anything.