He washed away the excess shaving cream, rubbing his fingers together under the weak stream of hot water. His father had tried to teach him, of course.
need a little bit," he'd said. "It goes a long way."
It'd been foam
back then; not the expensive, moisturizing, sensitive skin care, cocoa
butter-infused gel he slathered on now.
This stuff was
supposed to help his complexion, or so the writing on the side of the can
promised. In truth, it only served to remind him of what William Shakespeare
writes in Henry V: "The elder I wax, the better I shall appear: my comfort is, that old age, that ill layer up of beauty,
can do no more, spoil upon my face."
At 44, he'd been
shaving for 25 years.
"More than that,"
he sighed. "Closer to 30."
In all the days
of his eclectic, though admittedly incomplete, education, he'd somehow missed learning
about Newton's law regarding the dynamics of gel expansion, of that he was
used too much. Well, if he hadn't figured it out by now…
He looked in the
mirror as the remains of the glycerin goop slipped down the drain. The blue
eyes looked the same – his vision the only part of him, it seemed, not yet compromised
by age. The face itself had changed; the skin looser; he had a wrinkle or
three, and a couple old scars.
glance, he again read the two quotes he'd long ago taped at the top of the
glass – one a Latin phrase, the other he'd read in a Tom Clancy book.
mori;" Remember you will die. He'd intended it as a motivational tool; to
make him write by reminding him his time on this planet is limited.
Each morning, it
made him feel guilty when he thought about how little he'd accomplished the day
before. And, too frequently, it elicited an empty promise to do more today.
He noticed the
slowly increasing number of gray hairs on the sides of his head…and the quickly
decreasing number of hairs on top of it.
Shades of gray, he thought.
can be a man of honor; or you can not," the second quote read.
It wasn't that easy,
he knew. When he was young, everything had been simple. To a kid it's all black
and white; good and bad. You're either G.I. Joe or Cobra; cowboy or Indian.
But, a man's world is full of grays – colors
that had to be dealt with, and consequences to be endured. Decisions often had
to be made without the luxury of experience or knowledge. Best possible choices
made in a moment, and years of memories lived with.
what it means to be a man? he thought, making the first pass with his
razor. To struggle forward, while always dwelling
on the mistakes of the past; trying to accept things that can't be changed.