Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Uncle Roy's Mustache (A Prequel To "Uncle Roy's Wake")


Yesterday, I recounted (reprinted, actually) the story of Uncle Roy's Wake. In it, there was a description of the mild pandemonium caused when Roy's mustache was inadvertently shaved off. His mustache was always neatly trimmed, very close to the lip, and the funeral parlor personnel thought it was just three-day's growth of beard, so they shaved it.

Roy was Dorothy's father. When I first visited with her in June, we talked about her father's wake. She remembered the incident, of course. It also reminded her of a similar (if shorter) story.

At the time of this story, Roy had been stricken with a number of ailments. The chief culprit for purposes of this story was a semi-crippling bit of neuralgia, coupled with arthritis. As a result of these infirmities, Roy was fairly much bedridden. In addition, he had limited mobility of his arms. He could raise his hands only so high, and his grip with either hand was tenuous at best. Therefore, he had to have other members of his family do a number of everyday tasks for him.

Dorothy took care of many of these tasks. She would patiently feed her father, for example, and bring drinks to his lips. It was no doubt quite stressful, but Dorothy - as you know, if you enjoyed her story - is a kind woman with much love. She was a schoolteacher (with a Masters in education, by the way) so one would assume she had patience in abundance, as well. In any case, she did what needed to be done, and did it competently.

Well, that's not quite true. She was competent except in one instance.

Dorothy became tasked with shaving Roy. At best, shaving someone else is a shaky proposition. When you're shaving a part of a person that you don't normally shave on yourself - such as a woman shaving a man's face - it's downright nerve-wracking, especially if you're using something other than a modern safety razor.

When Roy shaved, he used an old-fashioned straight razor.



You can easily slice someone's face to ribbons with something like that, if you don't use it correctly.

Dorothy whisked shaving soap in a mug and applied it to Roy's face with a bristle brush. She wanted to make sure she got complete coverage of the areas she intended to shave, so she overlapped areas not needing a shave. And a bristle brush is not a precision instrument, so she had soap on Roy's upper lip, too. After letting it sit for a bit - in order to soften the whiskers - she started scraping the foam off with the straight razor. She started with the neck and worked up to the chin. She did the chin and jawline. Then she started on his left cheek. She started high, by the ear, at an angle. On the downstroke, she leaned into it just a bit too much. The razor slid easily, lubricated by the soap, and it took off almost half of Roy's short, neat mustache.

Roy was in great pain from the neuralgia, so that may have made the scraping of his upper lip less noticeable to him. In any case, he didn't say a word. Dorothy, however, wanted to scream. Here she was, trying to do her dad a favor, and she had instead turned his facial hair into a freak show. He was now THE MAN WITH HALF A MUSTACHE!

Dorothy was no dummy. She didn't let on to her dad that anything was out of the ordinary. She continued with the shave, being extremely careful not to shave off the other half of the mustache, nor do anything that would alert her father to the fact that he was already semi-hairless. She finished the shave, wiped Roy's face clean of excess soap, washed his skin with fresh water, and applied some after-shave (but NOT where his mustache had been, lest he feel the sting there.)

Dorothy had thought it all out during the end of the shave. She knew that Roy couldn't raise his hands. There were no mirrors in his room. If she could keep him from looking at his own face for four or five days, he might never even know what had happened. Roy's mustache was so neatly-trimmed to begin with, four or five days would more-or-less bring it back to what it had been. Then she could shave him again and leave the newly-grown-back half-mustache intact, with nobody being any the wiser.

She kissed him - mostly on the right side, so he wouldn't feel anything unusual - and left the room.

The only problem remaining was to alert the rest of the family as to what had transpired, and then warn off any visitors from mentioning Roy's lack. So, Dorothy posted a sign, in bold lettering, on Roy's bedroom door:

DO NOT TELL HIM ABOUT HIS MUSTACHE!

And, to Dorothy's relief, nobody did. Everybody kept a straight face when they talked to Roy - as hard as that might have been to do - and when Dorothy shaved him again about a week later, all was right with Roy's mustache and the world. Until the wake, of course.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. In going through some family albums, trying to find a good representative photo of Roy and his mustache, a funny thing happened. There wasn't a single picture in my possession that was worth publishing here for illustrative purposes. Roy's mustache was so neatly-trimmed and fair, it barely showed up at all in the old black-and-white photographs. I could see it, but only because I knew it was supposed to be there. If I had put one of those photos out here for you to look at, and then gone on to claim that Roy had a mustache in that photo, most of you would have just been puzzled. So, that's why no photo of Roy accompanies this piece. If, at a later date, I find a photo that shows the mustache decently, I'll append it here. Of course, by then it won't do you any good.

So, all of the above postscript is basically useless information. Sorry! I'll just shut up and go away now...


23 comments:

Chucka Stone Designs said...

Wow, there was so much drama, drama, drama associated with uncle Roy. This was hilarious. I can just picture Dorothy working out all the details in her head & posting that sign on the door.

Sarah said...

how cute! i love the sign...how old was miss dorothy at the time?

Uncle Jim said...

The moustache was not the only thing that Dorothy kept from Uncle Roy. At one point he was in so much pain that our other uncle Howard (who was an MD) began giving him shots of morphine.... to the point he became addicted. Dorothy spent weeks weaning him from the morphine. She did this by steaming the seal from the bottle and replacing it with sterile water. It took weeks and Uncle Roy suffered some withdrawals, but not badly. Weeks later after he was weaned and no longer on the massive doses he suffered arthritic attack while with Uncle Howard. Naturally Howard gave him a shot and the entire episode began again. Dorothy is a strong and very kind and brilliant lady.

Jeni said...

Now that story is funny too - just like the one about the wake but the practical joke your Dad's friend wanted to pull off with the car -no that part was truly the icing on the cake in a whole string of events, all quite entertaining to read today! You really could or should put together a book of these stories, ya know!

Suldog said...

Sarah - I'm not really sure how old Dorothy was then. My guess? Somewhere in her mid-to-late 30s.

Sandra Ree said...

This story was funny, sad too. Dorothy was a saint. As evident of Uncle Jim's comment also. These are the type of stories that I relish reading and I would most definitely put on my nightstand if ever published.

Merisi said...

After all this drama, I sure hoped for a picture! Thanks for going to all that length explaining why there are pictures but not one really illustrative enough ... anyway, try to get a picture before we grow one of them mustaccios ourselves, ;-)))

Was so nice seeing you over there on my blog, thank you for your visit! :-)

Hilary said...

Every family should have a Dorothy. Though it seems that every family has and Uncle Roy. Great stories, Suldog. Keep 'em coming! :)

Buck said...

Dorothy certainly was nobody's fool! The sign on the door was simply brilliant, as were the actions of the rest of the family by playing along.

Great tale, Jim.

david mcmahon said...

Lovely work, Jim. They were called ``cut-throat razors'' for a reason!

Mushy said...

I loved the hell out of this and the "wake" story...great writing.

Have you started that Blook yet?

CrazyCath said...

Dorothy is indeed a patient, kind and extremely astute and intelligent lady. Your uncle's comment also lends credence to her abilities. A brilliant woman.

Great post. I'm off at the weekend for a few days and won't get to a computer.
Obviously come over when you like, but...
If you get near a computer on Tuesday 5th, have a look at my post because there'll be an award for you. I'll be away so it's a scheduled post for 1am Tuesday (my time zone!)

Ex-Shammickite said...

Yes, I agree, a great story, and well told. But I have to ask.... do you have a job? Or a life? How can you devote so much time to writing all those long drawn-out blog posts? You obviously have a lot of writing stamina.

Carol said...

Suldog...The memories of Uncle Roy must tickle your entire family! This was a stitch. Don't go away....keep on writing! I love it!

Suldog said...

Answering the questions...

Mushy - I am constantly sifting through my stuff, saying to myself, "This is really good, but this is horrid - what was I thinking?" The problem is that I say the same thing about the exact opposite pieces another month down the road. So, no, I haven't tried to concretely (paper, ink, covers of some sort) publish anything yet.

Ex - Job? Life? What are these things you speak of?

Well, sure, I've detailed my job here a number of times. I do much of my writing during lunch hour, before work, after work, during breaks, etc. As for a "life", that's always subjective, isn't it? I mean, I'm alive. What I choose to do with that gift may not be what everyone else would choose, so...

And now, a question of my own, to Carol:

Who said I was going anywhere? :-)

Sandra Ree said...

Congratulations to you again Sul for Post Of The Day with authorblog! You most certainly deserve it!

mlh said...

That Dorothy is a wonder! I don't think I have it in me to even WALK by a razor like that.

womaninawindow said...

You'll come back with better? Really? This was a wonderful story. I'm kinda thinking you might have that gift.

Thanks for coming my way!
erin

Peter N said...

Manny is left coast Manny now...and our Sox only get Bay. No reliever!?

lime said...

LOL, bless dorothy and her plan to keep the truth from roy. that is really pretty funny. and i cannot imagine trying to give a man a shave with a straight edge. i'd be terrified of slicing him to bits. if all i did was accidentally lop off half a moustache i'd consider it tremendously fortunate.

Chris Stone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet said...

Miss Dorothy is her usual brilliant self. A straight razor! yikes

Chris Stone said...

Now I'm really curious. What's Roy look like?

the sign on the bedroom door is classic.

and no, suldog. you don't just have a life! after sharing it so eloquently...