There are many things the father of a boy is required by Man Law to teach him. Like how to spot a narc, play poker and burp the alphabet.
I recently taught the Boy how to shave. He’s 14, so that’s about the right age, I guess. My facial hair didn’t start coming in until I was closer to 30, and even then my growth looked like the lawn of that neighbor everyone hates (if you can’t think of who that neighbor is, it’s you, or more likely, me).
But for the Boy, it was time. He had a mustache. A “that guy in high school named Todd who smoked Viceroys and drove an El Camino” mustache.
“I’m going to teach the Boy how to shave,” I told my wife.
She replied with the intensity of a hardline cop in a 1970s detective movie, “That’s my baby you’re talking about.”
But I did it anyway because, you know, Man Law.
I learned how to shave from watching Ward Cleaver teach Wally on “Leave it to Beaver.” I think my father had worn a full beard since he was 12 so he obviously didn’t know how. His beard was glorious. Nature’s cruel joke on me was that the first beard I mustered at 33 looked bad by even Fidel Castro standards.
Well, that was one of nature’s cruel jokes on me.
For a boy, shaving for the first time is important. It’s like getting a driver’s license or finding Dad’s stash of “special” magazines. And, much like the dating world the Boy will discover soon enough, a first shave also involves the fear of getting cut with a sharp object.
Well, maybe that’s just me.
“Hold your nose up, like this,” I said, summoning my best Ward Cleaver. “Then puff out your upper lip.”
He did, and the Todd mustache came off. His face was as smooth as mine at 25.
“How does that feel?” I asked.
“Manly,” he said.
What he really said was “good,” but I’m going with “manly” because that’s what I’m going to tell him he said when I’m old.
I patted the Boy on the shoulder. “Hey, let’s go show your mom.”
It’s times like this I should still be afraid of getting cut with a sharp object.
This isn’t the only male child milestone we’ve crossed. Following the Man Law checklist, I’ve also taught him how to mow the lawn, enjoy “The Dirty Dozen,” develop an unhealthy taste for pork products, understand that life isn’t fair, and he’s learning how to drive. The instruction permit exam is only six months away.
Shut up. That’s my baby. My wife didn’t say this; she’s discovered a way to project her thoughts into my mind.
But my day of dad stuff didn’t end with a clean shave.
“Hey, let me pick the movie tonight,” I told him.
“OK,” he said.
We watched “Dirty Harry.” And that, folks, is a rock-solid day of parenting.
– Jason’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.