Just before leaving for vacation, I found my wife rummaging through the bathroom of our camping trailer.
“Help me find something” she said.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
“You will know when you don’t find it.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I told her.
“Just keep looking.”
So I looked and looked and finally had to ask, “What am I looking for?”
“I guess it is not here,” she said. “Go back into the house and look on the vanity in your bathroom then tell me what is there that is not in the camper.”
“Oh….I get it.” I said, “you are talking about my razor. I decided not to bring it.”
“We are camping and I don’t shave while I’m camping.”
She sighed that deep sigh of hers.
“Let me explain something,” she said, “camping is what you do when you leave everything behind. RVing is what you do when you tow everything behind. We are RVing and everything includes your razor. It also include shorts and shirts that you can wear in public.”
Which is what bothers me about RVing.
Real camping is the only chance most married guys have to be total slobs. The entire point of it is to sprout two weeks of stubble and return home smelling like dead fish, mosquito spray and stale whiskey.
What is the point of camping if you do in a different place the same things you do at home? To me that is no different than staying in a hotel – only in an RV, you provide the room.
But there is something more going on here – and it is all about the beard.
I’ll admit it, I am an old hippie and like so many of my generation, I once let my freak-flag fly… That is – until I got a real job.
My first substantial employment was in a steel foundry. They hired me despite how I looked– but at the end of my first day, the safety director summoned me to his office.
“Take a look at these,” he said, sliding a wad of photos across his desk. “It’s what happens when a beard gets caught in machinery.”
I couldn’t shave fast enough.
After college, I worked for a company that required me to shave and wear a tie. Near the end of my first week, I found myself working with three guys who wore beards, sandals, cut-off’s and tie-dye t-shirts.
“What gives?” I asked my boss.
“Those guys are so good at what they do,” he said, “that management lets them wear anything they want.”
So I grew out my beard. After two days, my boss asked, “What gives?”
I explained that I was also good at what I did.
“Not that good,” he said.
So I shaved.
Years later I went to work for the police. As a unionized civilian, the cops couldn’t say much about my beard until one day, my lieutenant called me in, “Greg,” she said, “you might consider shaving,”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you look like a narc,” she said, “and in certain quarters that might be misinterpreted – harshly.”
So I bought a razor and shaved that afternoon.
Now after decades of dress codes, I am finally retired. At long last, there are no bosses, no employee’s handbook, no union contract and no one to say whether I can or cannot grow a beard.