At Your Own Pace

Chaos in Print

I remember taking Religion 100 from Dr. Hans-Dittmar Mundel. I liked him, but I don’t think he liked me. He always looked at me in that way that your parents look at you when you’ve really pissed them off. One day in class, the subject turned to the good old creationism vs. evolution debate. The student who was presenting was giving us a run down of what God made on the first, second, third, etc. days. When she started taking questions, somebody asked, “How come in all these days it makes no mention of the dinosaurs?” Our presenter then explained that we have no concept of “God’s time,” and that by seven days the Bible could mean the 70 million years between when dinosaurs lived and our time on Earth. It was then that I began thinking that God’s time is a lot like my time.

Going back even further, we find myself in the eighth grade. Social studies as taught by Mr. Robert Twerdoclib (no, that name is not a typo). As part of one of our history lessons, Mr. Twerdoclib was going to make an example of the development of razors. At this point, Mr. Twerdoclib asked the class, “Which of you young men have begun shaving yet?” None of the young men raised their hands. Mr. Twerdoclib had a puzzled look on is face and then asked, “How about the young women?” About four or five of my female classmates raised their hands. This prompted Mr. Twerdoclib to say, “Huh. This is the first time I’ve ever had to go to the female population to get a response to that question.” Just about everything in the room turned a slight tinge of red from all the embarrassed young men. Even though I have no concrete evidence, I am fairly certain that all of my eighth grade compatriots went home that night and shaved for the first time. Except, of course, for myself. I wasn’t going to let the words of my Social teacher get me down. And besides, I was, as I am now, a very practical person, and I felt I didn’t need to yet.

Years passed. Soon, Grade 11 was upon me, and the peach fuzz was getting pretty thick. It was that year for Christmas that I got a Remington electric razor. I was impressed and thanked my parents for the gift. It sat unopened in the box until March, and that’s when I figured that the time was right for me to start shaving. So I plugged in the Remington, and with a few quick cuts, I was baby faced again. When it came to shaving, I used that Remington religiously until this very day. For on this day, things began to change.

The screen to my Remington began to have holes in it. I know what you’re thinking, “But Mark, it’s always got holes in it.” Har har. These were huge, gaping holes. The cutting heads would come through and scratch up my face something fierce. I thought I’d have this licked, and I put a piece of scotch tape over the hole. Problem solved, or so I thought. Soon, a second hole opened up, and another piece of tape. Then another. And another. The top of my Remington was soon covered with scotch tape, and the only effective cutting surface was two millimeters wide. I had said to myself that I had always wanted to try shaving with a good old fashioned razor. I also remembered a line from one of my favorite cartoons of the 80s: “This is not a tragedy. It is a cleverly disguised opportunity.”

The time had come for me to learn to shave with a razor. There was only one little hitch. I needed a teacher. Usually, when a boy is 12 or 13 he goes to his father and asks to learn how. But I am a boy of 23. I’m supposed to know by now. Although, I have set precedent in the past for doing things at my own pace. No way around it. I wasn’t going to attempt this on my own and cut up my beautiful, beautiful face. I had to ask Dad to show me.

A day soon passed. A week. Two weeks. The beard was starting to get pretty thick. I had to ask Dad. But this was kind of embarrassing. I was having trouble working up the nerve. I bought myself a bag of BIC disposable razors and a can of shaving foam, hoping that owning the tools would help build up the courage. They sat unopened for three days. Finally, one Wednesday night, I turned to Dad, and explained the situation with my Remington. “So,” I asked, “Could you show me how to shave with a razor?”

“No problem,” Dad said. He took me into the bathroom, dug out his razor and good old fashioned shaving soap and brush, and gave me a 10 minute primer on everything I needed to know. Always go down, don’t use long strokes, go slow so you don’t cut yourself. He then left me alone to give it a shot.

Shaving with a razor just sounds different that with an electric razor. It’s so quiet. You can actually hear each and every individual whisker getting clipped. It sounds like something’s scratching you, but nothing is. Things were going quite well. It wasn’t as hard as it looked. The whole moustache area was a bit tricky, though. But I got through it unscathed. Now, time to do the neck. Look out for that zit! OWW!! Well, I didn’t expect to get through this unscathed. The battle must continue, and soon my neck was as smooth as an android’s bottom.

I gazed at my clean-shaven face. I was still stunned as to how easily it went. I decided to slap on a little bit of after shave. God, did that hurt. A regular razor leaves your face a lot more raw than an electric razor. I did my best silent scream as the stinging of the after shave subsided. As I pulled myself up from the bathroom floor, I looked at myself in the mirror once again. “Today,” I thought to myself, “I am a man!” (Well, not quite a man yet. There’s still one more thing I need to do before I hit that plateau, and I’ve already ranted about it in one column too many.)

As I walked out of the bathroom, I couldn’t help but think about how long it took me to reach this point. How come, way back in grade 8, I didn’t join in with my comrades? How come Mr. Twerdoclib’s words didn’t have the same bite on me that they had on all the others? Maybe that’s where being branded a genius at an early age came in helpful. Ever since I got that label, I was always told to do things at my own pace. If my pace was faster than everyone else, that was OK. If it was slower, that was OK, too. And while I was faster than everyone else at things like math and science, there were the things were I was painfully slow. It wasn’t until the third grade that I could tie my shoes. It wasn’t until the fourth grade that I could ride without training wheels. There are things in my life where I know that they aren’t important to know now, but I’ll learn them when I need to. Shaving was one of them.

Every thing for me happens in “Mark time.” It gets done when it gets done. God wasn’t working under any deadlines. He got things done when He got them done. Not that I’m saying I’m God, mind you, just saying we have similar concepts of time. And if people like Dr. Mundel can’t wrap their brains around that, I’ll live with it. They’ll learn to love me in their time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need a shave.