“Oh, my god, why are you doing this to me?”
I have heard my wife say this so many times during the decades we’ve been together that it no longer affects me.
In this case, Kathy is referring to the fact I haven’t shaved in ten days. She stands in the kitchen, an expression on her mug that simultaneously registers horror and disgust.
I have seen this expression so many times during the decades we’ve been together that it no longer affects me.
“Please, Karl … please.” She sounds like a hostage pleading for her release: “Pleeeeeeease … shaaaaave.”
Not going to happen.
Just as a number of other things have ceased to happen since I no longer stalk the path of small town journalism, meeting the public on a daily basis, listening to people scream, cry, issue threats, plead, curse, warble, choke or indulge any of the other behaviors favored by folks who come to the editor’s office seeking favors, remedies or revenge.
For example, I have ceased changing into fresh clothes every day. Why bother?
I’ve reduced my wardrobe to two outfits: one for going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, the other for working in the studio and at the keyboard.
My goin’-out-on-the-town outfit consists of a Pagosa Pirates volleyball T-shirt, a black hoodie, emblazoned with the crest of the American Academy of Performing Arts (a gift from my youngest daughter, a grad), a pair of khaki Dockers, the backs of the cuffs shredded by heel stress as I shrink in height, and a pair of “sport” shoes Kathy bought in the vain hope I would take to walking.
My goin’-to-the-studio outfit consists of one of three pairs of sturdy, paint-stained PJ bottoms, a Pagosa Pirates volleyball T-shirt, one of two paint-stained and frayed black sweatshirts, and a pair of paint-spattered and torn slippers.
The only screams, cries, threats, pleas, curses, warbles and choking I hear now come from Kathy.
It no longer affects me.
And, once I partake of a cocktail before dinner, I am convinced I look great. A bit porky, since I’ve failed to make it to the gym in a year, but great nonetheless.
So, not shaving fits right in, wouldn’t you agree?
“Why are you doing this to me?” She sits in the dining room, elbows on the tabletop, her head in her hands. Her shoulders shake as she gasps for breath between moans.
“I’m not doing it to you, dear, I’m doing it for you. I’m bringing variety into your otherwise humdrum life.”
“Variety? You wear the same clothes every day. The only reason they don’t get so greasy that they spontaneously combust is I snatch them when you’re sleeping and throw them into the washing machine. Variety?”
“Well, I also want to know what my beard looks like.”
“It looks like hair, and it looks ugly.”
“No, I mean I want to compare it to the beard I had thirty years ago.”
“That beard was ugly, too. It was dark; this one will be gray… and ugly. There, you know. Now, go shave.”
I have learned a lot about being a caring mate during 43 years with this woman, so I attempt to throw some love her way with a hug as she rises from the chair.
She backs away, grabs me by the shoulders, spins me around and hugs me from behind.
“You want hugs, this is the only kind you’ll get until you shave. That is, as long as I can still get my arms around you.”
This morning, from across the room, she calls me “Abu Al-Isberg” and accuses me of converting to Islam.
It does not affect me.
Little does my precious Love Bunny know, but I have reasons for not shaving other than irritating her or wanting to see what the beard looks like. Two motives, as a matter of fact:
- I am going to corner the Santa Claus business here in Siberia With a View.
- I am going to be this nation’s oldest, most inspirational Lumbersexual: The Billy Graham of Lumbersexuals, if you will.
During my time in the journalism biz, especially during the years I worked as a reporter, I was forced to endure far too many holiday season events where snot-nosed urchins were dragged to a theater, the Chamber of Commerce building or the community center, to meet Santa.
Santa was invariably played by a local feeb who donned a cheap department store Santa costume, complete with fake beard, and conned his wife or a female acquaintance at the trailer park into playing Mrs. Claus. The two of them would go through their clumsy routine — him ho-ho-hoing between hits off his oxygen tank, her handing out stale cookies and calling kids “darling” — until some little jerk yanked the beard off and despair steamrolled the assembled young ‘uns. That’s right, kids, Santa is a fraud. There was no recharging the fantasy, no recreating the magic once the fake beard was removed.
This will no longer be the case.
Most of the geeks who worked the local Santa system over the years are either dead or have been deposited in the local “Care Center” so, as I near the gate to Feebville, I figure who better to fill the void this next season than me?
To give the kids their due, to allow them to wallow in the warm comfort of their holiday greed, their illusions secure, I need a real beard. I owe that to the kids. Dammit, if we’re going to lie to the little shits, we need to commit fully to the effort.
Since my beard will be whitish gray — and since I have no intention of going to the gym or cutting back on the cocktails, and thus will continue to fatten up — I am Santa!
If Kathy, as I suspect she will, refuses to wear a long red dress with matching red velvet jacket, a pair of round, gold-rimmed glasses and a white, lacy nightcap on her head, I will recruit a gal from the pack of widows who play cards at the senior center to act as my Mrs. Claus. They’ll do anything for companionship and the promise, no matter how obviously false, of an enduring relationship. I’ll guarantee the chosen one will always be my Mrs. Claus and there’ll be a spirited battle to determine who joins me at the festivities.
I am convinced this Santa duty will provide me with a hefty supplementary income (I’m having a hell of a time shopping a new book to agents, and selling paintings is always a struggle) and will provide me with positive experiences I can forget once I’m shipped to the Care Center to sit on the porch and eat pudding with the other ex Santas.
More important: Lumbersexual.
This is big stuff amongst millennials and I am determined to become an icon.
Move over Metrosexuals: you’re stale and your day has long been over.
Yep, we Lumbersexuals are making our bulky, hirsute way to the quivering tip of the arrow of cultural evolution and excitement — in so far as cultural evolution involves yet another theft of a gay type by heterosexuals.
You can recognize us Lumbersexuals easily: According to Aleksander Chan, in a piece on Gawker, this is a new Man Trend, so we’re everywhere. Lumbersexuals, he says, are “a foil to the Metrosexual, the alleged nadir of masculinity from the last decade.”
The Metrosexual is pretty darned tidy, eerily spick and span as a matter of fact. Metrosexuals use unguents and special hair conditioners, and clean their anuses with Q Tips while discussing the merits of radicchio.
The Lumbersexual looks like a logger, someone who rarely wipes his ass because he’s so busy being rugged. He has a beard, wears flannel work shirts, work boots, jeans that bear the scars of labor. Need a forest destroyed? He’s your man. He’ll do it in an afternoon then return home to cuddle next to the fire, proof you can own an ax and still be sensitive.
Lumbersexuals are strapping guys, independent, able to fell trees with a single blow, so active they don’t have time to shave and, on special occasions they wear suspenders! So, in paradigm cases, the suspenders go on and the beard gets big. Real big. Bushy, even.
I’m nothing if not a paradigm case.
That’s where I’m headed: bushy. George Michael, it’s time to turn and run (you’ve had so many chances, for god’s sake take this one!).
And you young Lumbersexuals out there, take heed: this trend will survive in the hetero world if and only if it is led by a seasoned veteran. You need me. If anyone knows how to parody a parody of a traditional masculinity that never existed it is I, and I am proud to do so. Give me several months to keep growing this beauty of a beard and to find the funds to purchase suspenders, work boots, jeans and a flannel shirt. When I’m ready, we’ll hold a rally. In the forest. Pencil in a date sometime after Christmas, when I get paid for my Santa gigs.
That’s right, boys: I am waddling to the front of the Lumbersexual pack to carry the banner as we lurch backward into a less-than-bright, uber-masculine era that never existed.
Oh, and once we’re there, if you meet Mrs. Claus, whatever you do, avoid giving her the impression you like her; she’s liable to move in and demand that you shave.