My Beautiful Dad
As a young girl I would watch with amazement, the care and precision my Dad would use in grooming himself for a night out, family picnic, or a day's work at the factory. It didn't matter where he was going. The grooming regimen was always the same, and each time consisted of about 3 hours of preparation. Mom was forever furious that he always monopolized our only bathroom, but everything had to be just perfect, from the way his hair lay on his head, to the shape of his eyebrows and moustache, which he carefully smoothed for several minutes until they were just right. He didn't speak much while this process was going on, because he kept his mouth full of mouthwash the entire time. Even his breath had to be immaculate-- nothing was overlooked or forgotten about. Everything had to line up, from his breath, to his socks & mirror‑shined shoes, to his coordinated hat band.
But what drew me into these bathroom ceremonies in particular, was the way he washed his face. He always began with a thick foamy shaving lather as he shaved his moist skin with calculated precision, shouting indecipherable exclamations through his mouthwash if he, on the rare occasion happened to nick his perfect skin enough to draw blood. With a terry facecloth and another thick, foamy lather from some other type of manly‑scented cleanser, he would then scrub, but carefully, until his face glowed, slightly reddened and squeaky clean. Next came the lemony‑scented astringent or after shave, and the most wonderfully messy and fascinating part of all . . . He would heartily and continuously splash and splash his face and neck with running water for what seemed like an eternity. He was completely involved and immersed in the entire grooming process, but the rinsing part looked as if he was splashing for his life. He always came up from the face bowl blinking back the water from his eyes and looking like an Olympic swimmer coming up after a race. He then gently patted himself dry, looking exhilarated and smirking, and began to quickly smooth on several applications of moisturizer with the finesse and dexterity of a concert pianist. I was enthralled every time. And the strange thing was he always seemed to grow younger and younger each time I watched him. By the time my father was in his sixties (and still doing the same regimen) he appeared to have the complexion of a man barely in his forties. I was always struck by how young he looked, especially immediately after his skin care regimen was complete, and he painstakingly began to comb his hair and get dressed in a crisp, freshly dry‑cleaned shirt. My Father was unconsciously teaching me my very first examples of cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing.
I feel it is important to mention here that my Dad was not gay, bisexual or even remotely metro. He was fully masculine, worked tirelessly, took his adult responsibilities seriously, and provided for his family dutifully. He just also happened to be a man who took great pride in his personal appearance and recognized that having youthful, beautiful skin is not just a benefit enjoyed by women. In the slang of the day, my Dad was termed a 'pretty boy', and he immensely enjoyed being recognized as such. He also intuitively knew what it took to maintain the appearance of his youth, so he could keep those 'attractive man' compliments coming.
I was inspired to action by the age of 12 to begin caring for my own skin "the way Dad did". I have been using his techniques ever since. His techniques were very simple yet revolutionary. I say revolutionary, because many have fiercely pursued the fountain of youth at great cost to life, limb and pocketbook. My Father taught me that not only do you not need great amounts of cash (or surgery) to look wonderful, but that seemingly elusive fountain can be captured after all. The result is my own set of daily compliments on my skin, and how decade after decade, it still glows younger than ever. Who would have thought it was all about how you wash your face?
I dedicate this blog to my Dad and everything he wordlessly taught me during those endless hours of 'beauty classes' in our family bathroom.