Off with It!

FRANKLIN MASON

September 23, 1993|By FRANKLIN MASON

Well, he'd done it. He came downstairs and cut himself a piece of chocolate cake. Ate it with a fork, not his fingers, a sort of celebration.

Upstairs he'd committed the deed, stood before the mirror and did away with whatever-it-was. Stood for a last look, lathered, pulled the blade. It was not easy, it pulled hard. He knew it would.

He decided rather suddenly. He'd had three weeks of it, he wanted it gone now, the whatever-it-was. It was a mustache, or the semblance of one, the best he could afford.

It had stood there three weeks, at first scarcely asserting itself. He was not dark, nor was his lip appendage. Salt and pepper maybe but more salt.

Yes, he'd been to hospital. They'd almost taken his head off. He was unhappy enough without shaving. He didn't shave.

Somehow he'd come through, kept his head. He was grateful, thankful for that. He wanted to do the right thing, celebrate the right way. Perhaps he'd commemorate his head, that he still had it. Perhaps put a mustache on it, or try to. He might dedicate it to his doctor. He deserved all praise.

So he'd been to hospital and now was from hospital. The mustache (he was shy of saying the word) hadn't gone far. The salt had gained on the pepper. Mostly he couldn't see anything. But he felt it. It felt terrible and he felt terrible. He knew the Fuller brush men had gone but he felt they'd left all their bristles with him.

So he'd suffered three weeks and could take it no longer.

He remembered the chocolate cake. He knew he was saving it for something.

He went upstairs and stood before the mirror, part in sorrow, more in joy. He lathered, lathered, pulled, pulled the blade. And then it was, or wasn't. What was never quite there was not there at all.

He went downstairs and cut the cake. Happiness was a chocolate cake without a mustache.

Franklin Mason is a retired Baltimore Sun journalist.

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