Before leaving on vacation, I found my wife rummaging through the bathroom of our camper.
“I am looking for something but I can’t find it.” she said.
“What are you looking for?” I asked.
Instead of answering, she kept looking.
I asked again.
“Do you really want to help me?” she asked.
“Go back into the house and search the vanity in your bathroom then tell me what is there that is not here.”
“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.”
“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.”
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 come home smelling like dead fish, mosquito spray and stale whiskey.
What is the point of camping if all you do is the same things you do at home in a different place? It is like staying in a hotel where 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 but all colleagues wore beards, shorts and sandals.
“What gives?” I asked my boss.
“Those guys are so good at what they do,” he said, “that management lets them wear whatever they want.”
So I let my beard grow. After a few 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 grooming 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 that I am retired there are no bosses, no employee’s handbook, no union contracts and no one to tell me I can’t grow a beard.