This will kind of build upon the last post about my father. Again, I’m venting some thoughts from deep below the surface and they might not make very much sense to the reader. If you read the last post, there is a little back story on my father’s nicotine habit and allusions about a turbulent family life. I’m not gonna get into any of that, but the post may give a little texture to the setting I’m going to describe later in the post.
This morning, when waiting for the hot water to start before jumping into the shower after yoga, I looked at my hands and was reminded of my father. I have his hands, as well as a few of his mannerisms. My hands are smaller than his were, but my hands look like his nonetheless. Every time I look at them I’m reminded of this.
Also being in the bathroom, when looking at my hands, tripped a memory. I was taken back to the days when I was a young boy and I would sit on the closed toilet seat in my parents’ bathroom and watch him shave before going off to work. He would have been freshly showered, a towel wrapped around his lower body, and a cigarette would have been hanging from his lips as he shaved or it would be smouldering in an ashtray on the basin. I vividly remember the brown nicotine stain on the end of the filter.
He would always be shaving with a double edged safety razor. The razor’s design is very early last century and the idea of it being a “safety” razor seems almost oxymoronic. This morning I was transported via memory to an amalgam of all of those moments watching him carefully remove the whiskers from his face and neck. He would always use some kind of menthol shaving cream and the cut hair and lather would wind up in the sink at the end of the shaving ritual.
After shaving, he would wash away the remaining soap on his face and then apply some kind of aftershave. He seemed to mostly use cheap stuff that one would find in a drugstore. They would be blue or green in color and have names like Aqua Velva, Old Spice, Grey Flannel, or Royal Copenhagen. I have a feeling the Grey Flannel and Royal Copenhagen came from my mom and weren’t aftershaves my dad picked for himself.
As I would sit there and look up at him doing his thing, I’d look at his hands, watch what he was doing, and smell all of the smells: humidity from the shower, the KOOL cigarette smoke, menthol shaving cream, and cheap aftershave. These smells always remind me of mornings with my father. When I looked at my hands this morning, all of these things came back to me—as these memories often do.
I don’t know how many times I sat there and watched him in the mornings. It was probably a great many. I don’t know when it started or stopped. It just began and ended. Did it bring us closer together? No. He wasn’t that kind of man. Now, I think of it more as a young boy reaching out for a father who wasn’t around a lot. My brothers and I weren’t latchkey kids, we were borderline feral. Stating that we were feral is hyperbole; but our parents just weren’t around a lot, we moved many times growing up, and there was no real schedule or order to our lives. But these are topics for later posts.
I’ll leave off now. Looking at my hands brought all of this to the front my brain and took over all of my thinking for the morning. Now it’s time to get back to work and everything else.