January 14th, 2007
On my third day, my nurse offered to shave me. I turned her down. Weâ€™d become chummy because I let her put the football playoffs on my TV set. But suddenly it was if any bonds we had were broken. â€œYou donâ€™t want to be shaved? Itâ€™s the most wonderful feeling. And Iâ€™m the best. Oh, let me do it. Youâ€™ll see.â€
I explained to her I liked my beard.
â€œBut thatâ€™s not a beard. Itâ€™s aâ€¦ scrufty.â€
I held tough, though, and she wandered off — presumably to seek more appreciative men. When she came back after an hour, she said, â€œyou like that â€˜Houseâ€™ look, donâ€™t you?â€
I didnâ€™t know House. Only that it was a TV show.
I felt called to account and took her through my reasoning. â€œI always hated shaving. For a long time I wore a full beard, but it made me feel religious. About twenty years ago, I found a clipper set at Walgreens that allowed my to mow my beard once a week. â€œFortunately,â€ I said, â€œit had a scrufty setting.â€
I donâ€™t think people should have to defend styles, but we do. Tattoos, dreads, piercings, how low on the ass you wear your pants. My nurse liked men with smooth skin. If sheâ€™d been gorgeous, Iâ€™d have let her shave me.
When I returned home, my son and his sister, noting the addition of a cane to my scrufty, said, â€œOh, itâ€™s House.â€ Iâ€™ve got to see that show.
The cane I was given by the VA is beautiful â€“ a stunningly simple and elegant piece of light-toned hardwood. Iâ€™d love to see how they steam the wood to make the crook.
I’m so glad I graduated from the walker — a device unique in that for all its function it has no inherent beauty.
Anyhow, my cane is perfect. It has no knobbies, warts, gills, recurves, or insets. Just a smooth stick with a black rubber floor-gripper thingy (it must have a name) at the bottom.
Max and Reneeâ€™s first recommendation was to decorate, or somehow give the cane a distinction it lacks. Make it something House might use. I said this wasnâ€™t going to happen. Theyâ€™re used to getting some kind of compromise out of me, but not this time.
Last night, I got around to seeing my first episode of House. Okay, I was flattered to be compared to this charming and obviously terrific actor. Still, I know a cane and facial hair are pretty superficial character traits. But most of the celebrity aping we do is just as deep. And it works for all of us, to varying degrees. Dye your hair blond, shave your pussy, 86 your panties, and flash â€“ hey, arenâ€™t you Britney Spears?
I liked the show. But I can see right now there arenâ€™t going to be any House marathons for me. That showâ€™s formula is so obviously chipped in granite. But itâ€™s a really intelligent comic book. House is the superhero whose superpower is a rich understanding of a medical event from the flimsiest of clues. But a man of his personality can only exist in a universe of inferiors, happy to be bested, week after week, by a crankbutt. This, I got all from one viewing.
Give me â€œSix Feet Underâ€ any day. A collection of people whose strengths and attractions wax and wane, just like the people I love in my world.
But Iâ€™m going out tonight, with my scrufty beard and my cane. And a little fantasy will be playing in which certain bus passengers will think, as I wince and lower myself into a seat, â€œhow like Houseâ€ is that man.
Except my caneâ€™s actually a little classier.