Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Not So Close Shave

Like most male children I loved to watch my father shave when I was a tyke. He was an engineer and so when those newfangled electric shavers came out, he got one to be a modern guy. So as I was growing up it was fun to stand outside the bathroom listening to that loud buzz early in the morning as he got ready for work.

Needless to say, when I was getting ready to go to college, and right as I had enough peach hair, my dad gave me his old Schick shaver. Pure elation describes my feelings as I would run that thing over my meager few hairs on the chin in the dorm room. It probably ticked my roomy off, since he had to settle for a razor, but I didn't share.
Of course, when I stopped out of school for a few years and headed to the army, the shaver went with me. I fearlessly stood in the crowded, noisy bathroom of the barracks and while all the other new recruits scraped their faces with a razor blade, I happily buzzed away with my old Schick shaver.

However, on the second week of boot camp at Fort Polk in Louisiana (not so lovingly called little Vietnam) I stood at ridged attention on the front row of the formation as the drill sergeant inspected the platoon. Sgt. Fisher looked at me as I tensely stood in 1st squad and then he slowly sidestepped to the next worm. It seemed like slow motion as he turned his head my way again then stepped back in front of me.

"Williams, did you shave his morning!" He shouted. He always shouted I should point out. In fact, I had doubts he was capable of quiet, reflective conversation.
"Yes Drill Sergeant. I used my electric shaver and..."
"It doesn't look to me like you shaved at all!"
He then yelled at me to get out of formation and stand facing the platoon. He also yelled at a fellow terrified newby to go get his razor from his footlocker (a small wooden chest where we kept our few possessions).  When he returned, Sgt. Fisher had him dry shave me right there in front of the rest of the maggots. The drill sergeant then gave all of us a high decibel account how we must shave every day or we'd rot in hell for the rest of eternity—and he'd be there right behind us kicking our butts.

So from that day on to the present I have always shaved with a razor blade instead of an electric shaver. My cherished shaver now was a traitor to me and I gave it away to a fellow scumbucket who wanted to use it to somehow give himself and others tattoos.

It wasn't the pain of being dry shaved—and yes, it was and old razor and yes quite painful—it was the humiliation of standing in front of my fellow dirt balls and made an example. I guess the drill sergeant did this to teach us wimpy rejects an important point about army life. However, all I got from it, besides further hatred of Sgt. Fisher, was that you should never trust that your cherished notions will be regarded the same way by others.

Someday I'll tell you about the agony of getting care packages from mom while in basic.

(I know, I know. Those of you who have "Liked" any of my books' FaceBook pages—
—are saying to yourselves, "what a l
azy guy" because you saw that I posted this story there as a "FaceBook short story."  Well, I apologize, but right now I'm wrapping up my taxes and haven't had time to come up with any other clever content. So as soon as I file I'll get with it and come up with something witty and clever to add to The Brigade. By the way, remember you can still get a TAX BREAK for just 99¢ at:  Yes, more shameless self-promotion. Sorry.) 

James Thurber served in the Army from 1918-20 encrypting/decrypting messages in Paris, but due to the loss of eye didn't have to serve during WWI

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