There aren’t going to be many more of these rite of passage moments so I’d better make the most of this one…
The shadow on my youngest son’s upper lip has been growing darker. Nope, it’s never going to rival Jessica’s tattoo and tongue-stud in the school disapproval stakes – but it’s time to teach Ben how to shave.
And I’m determined to do it.
Somehow, I kept missing out with Tom.
How babies are made? School did that one.
Dating girls? 10,000 episodes of Friends.
And, “Have you started shaving?” I asked one morning.
“About two months ago,” he said.
“I was going to teach you…”
“I watched a video on YouTube.”
Far too late I rushed out and bought him his own razor and some shaving gel.
He promptly went over to the dark side and wrote “electric razor” on his Christmas list.
Well there’d be no missed opportunity and none of that namby-pamby nonsense with Ben. I coughed significantly every time a Wilkinson Sword ad came on.
And I watched his top lip carefully.
Eventually, the harvest was ready.
The good thing was, Ben knew it. And he was willing to learn.
“Come on,” I said on Saturday morning, “I need to get shaved. I’ll show you how to do it – then the bathroom’s all your’s.”
“There’s wet shaving and dry shaving,” I said.
“Real men use a real razor and wet shave. Besides, you’ve seen the ads. In no time at all there’ll be a seductive blonde gazing lovingly at your chin.”
“It’s never happened to you, dad…”
“There’s still time. Anyway, this is a can of shaving foam.”
“No it isn’t, dad. It’s a can of deodorant.”
“What?” So it was. Lynx Excite. Better not spray that all over my chin. Don’t want to make the wife insatiable when there’s a bacon sandwich in half an hour.
“OK, so you’ve two choices. Use the shaving foam out of this can. Or you can use my shaving bowl and brush.”
In the hope that he’ll use the cheap stuff and ignore my gentleman’s-shaving-cream-with-added-moisturiser (I need all the help I can get…) I decide to demonstrate with the £1.99 tin of Gillette.
My face swiftly disappears.
“Right,” I say through a mouthful of foam, “Now to shave it off. Just draw the blade gently across your skin.”
“How come you cut yourself so often?”
A fair point. To be honest, I haven’t improved much in the shaving skills department since I was about 20 – and I’m not going to now I’m a ‘creative’ and only get the razor out once every three days.
“Guess I just stop concentrating. Too busy thinking about a blog or something witty to say on Twitter.”
But I’m damn well going to concentrate now. This is a crucial father-son moment. I don’t want to spoil it with a steady drip, drip, drip of blood. But I do need to show Ben what can go wrong…
“You cut yourself when the blade sort of skids sideways. Like - ”
“No, dad. You don’t need to self-harm to prove your point.”
He’s right. And two minutes later I’m finished. Clean-shaven and looking twenty years younger. But now we come to the most important part. “Clean the wash basin,” I counsel my son. “There isn’t a woman in the country who thinks a tidemark of stubble is a good start to the weekend.”
With that, I leave him to it. A perfect father-son moment. And maybe I should strike while the iron is hot? “Just one more thing, Ben. All that stuff about the gooseberry bush…”