Everything is a comparison.

Where you were before, where you are now. There are differences, like some coloring book kids game you were forced to play in the backseat of your parents car to keep you busy while you drive to whatever summer destination they had in mind for the family that year.

No one seems to have that kind of time anymore.

The other day I was at a store making a point to buy this fancy-schmancy five blade razor that I like, specifically because the last time I made a razor purchase I wasn't able to find it, which led me to think "Oh who cares?" and just buy the next decent looking substitute on the rack.

It's the kind of day-to-day minutiae that only matters in blogs, but it was weird to step back from that and realize that I actually have opinions about razors. And yet, now that I give it a few moments of thought and really try to consider it, I can't honestly remember when I first started to shave.

Oh I remember the general timeframe -- somewhere in my early teenage years -- the everyday reality of puberty, acne, raging hormones, and the hair growth that came with it, but the actual event -- that seemingly innocuous occurrence that after-school TV reruns and sitcom plots tried to make into some huge sort of milestone moment for developing young men and the family patriarch -- sort of doesn't come up when I run it through my personal brain search engine.

I kinda want to say that one day; sick of the itching and sweat on my top lip -- I just decided to go for it, and then spent the next few months figuring it all out -- but I honestly for the life of me don't specifically remember. Maybe my dad did show me something, or perhaps it just wasn't complex enough of a moment in time to warrant specific remembrances or lessons learned. I just know that at some point I started shaving, and now I really feel like I need that five-blade moisturizing strip thing or else it's just not worth the time.

It's actually more possible (now that I'm thinking about it) that the timing of that first moment came somewhere around the beginning of my parents divorce, a time where my dad wasn't around the house. I suppose in other peoples lives that would be the storypoint. How someone has to figure out the scrapes and afterburn on their own without the sage advice that a father should be providing. How that void still stirs memories in the mornings when people stare at themselves in steamy mirrors and see their own faces aging into something closer to the parent that wasn't there when you needed him.

But it wasn't like that, either.

Dad was around, easy to reach on the phone and ready to pick us up every weekend. He wasn't part of the house anymore, but it wasn't like he was gone. It was never that he didn't care.
..It just wasn't one of those moments.
My son is 12. He has a little wisp of a mustache developing already, a genetic hand-me-down from one of his family tree branches. It's hardly noticeable to anyone else, but he desperately wants to get rid of it. It's like that wrinkle in the corner or your eye or that patch of cellulite near your armpit that you personally can't stand and you're CONVINCED everyone else sees and judges you by when you meet them. The one you can't seem to get rid of no matter how many products you use or fancy situps you try to do.

Even now when I shave, I sometimes miss the corners of my lips. I sweep the razor past them, pressing in while I move the blades with the grain of my face -- but I sometimes forget to part my lips a little while I'm hurrying to finish my morning routine, and the hair that grows in that little space escapes the cut.

After a day or two I can occasionally feel it against my lip. It almost always happens close to midday, when there's no chance to do anything about it. It's nothing, really -- but sometimes when work is slow or there's very little else going on I can't help but jab at it with my tongue, feel the prickle of this thing that shouldn't be there, this incidental oversight in my shaving technique that interrupts my day and makes me think about these things.

One day, probably sooner than later -- I'll teach my son to shave. I don't really have a plan for how I'll do it, or any sort of memory of it being taught to me to fall back on. But I'll do my best to cover the basics: How cheap shaving creams tend to melt away as you're going though the motions, leading you to think it's there when it's really not -- which makes it easier to cut yourself just a little. How once you start shaving you have to keep up with it even more, because it stimulates the growth once you cut it down.

I'll show him how letting the hot water run first so that the steam rises up actually makes the whole thing go by a little quicker, and seems to cut down on the burn afterwards. I'll tell him that I find it easier to shave in the shower for that very reason, but that it's easier when you're in there to think you're done when you're not -- so running your palm across the line of your jaw becomes that much more important to make sure you don't miss anything.

He won't care about any of this at first, I'm sure -- because all he's thinking about now is that shadow of a mustache that he can't stop noticing when he sees his own reflection, but it feels important to me that I teach it all to him anyways, even if the beard he's trying to manage hasn't even fully appeared in his life just yet.

But most importantly of all, I'll make sure he knows to open his mouth a little and shave those stray whiskers that show up in the corners of his lips..
Because those are the stray whiskers that will really bug you sometime later if you don't.

[Now Playing:  Renee and Angela- "I'll Be Good" ]