“When I was a boy of seventeen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in there years.” – Mark Twain
Like all children, the fondest memory of my dad in my childhood is of him shaving. Dad shaving was truly a scene of wonder for us – me and my sister. I used to watch in awe as he lathered the shaving cream in his face – an instant transformation into Santa Claus. And how I used to shriek in delight when he obliged by lathering up me too. Then amazement turned to wonder and concern as he took the blade and we watched open-mouthed as in quick, clean sweeps his stubble and the lather vanished. After his turn was over, he removed the blade and ‘shaved’ me too. Boy! Wasn't I so proud to shave like my dad. But the most enduring memory of this daily ritual was the lingering fragrance of the Old Spice aftershave. That was what truly announced the arrival of the new day – “OK new day, we have shaved – here we come!”
Again, like most children, the smell and bottle of Old Spice represented Dad for us.
But once I entered college and shaving age, after the initial attempts I gave up shaving and took to trimming. I felt having unkempt stubble gave me better looks than being clean-shaven. It did wonders for my rebel look. And again, like most children, I grew distant from my Dad – the representative of the old bourgeoisie tyrant trying to oppress the voice of freedom and the hope of the new generation (me obviously).
Years passed. I entered my new job far away from home - one that required during training days to get up and shave first thing in the morning. We grumbled initially but gradually it became a habit. Whenever I went to the store or supermarket to buy aftershave I used to see the bottle of Old Spice – the same old bottle after all these years – and I would feel pangs of guilt. Of not having been a dutiful son. Of disobeying and rebelling against my dad. So I religiously avoided Old Spice. Firstly all my friends went for the next generation brands – Park Avenue, Axe – the ones whose ads showed chicks running after you. So did I. Secondly I didn't think myself as good as my dad – not in shaving, not in anything. So I felt I was not worthy of using it – yet. When I saw it in the stands I felt like it belonged to my dad and so I avoided it.
I finally came home after a long gap to my parents. I had used up my aftershave and so for a couple of days I just went without it. One dad my dad noticed and said – you can use mine if you want. It was a moment of pride for me. My dad was recognizing me as a grown up individual. The prodigal son had truly returned. I went to his bathroom and looked for the familiar Old Spice bottle. But instead, to my utter amazement, I found the Axe ‘Dark Temptation’ aftershave there! I was stunned into silence for a moment. And then I couldn't help smiling at this anti-climatic moment.
I came out with the bottle and asked Dad – Since when did you stop using Old Spice and turn to…uh the new brands? He smiled too as if he had been expecting this question and said – Since I knew you were returning. Besides I’d like some change and isn't this what you youngsters use now. I figured I’ll have to keep up-to-date with you, eh? And he went back to reading the newspaper.
Happy Father’s Day dad. Everyone thinks their dad is the best. But only mine truly is. :)