My father, Beard Plucking, and the Letter Feb 3, 2023 18:08:24 GMT -5
Post by Radrook Admin on Feb 3, 2023 18:08:24 GMT -5
My father, Beard Plucking, and the Letter
There are things in life that happen to us out of chance, while other things we bring upon ourselves. Such seems to have been the case with what occurred with my father. The sad part about it is that it was all because of his beard. You see, he had started shaving at a very young age in order to feel more adult. Well, the result was that by the time he was twenty, he had a beard tantamount in texture to sandpaper.
He would shave in the morning before going to work m come home in the evening with a dark shade on his face, approach my mom in order to snuggle, and she would complain that he was scraping her with it. He would then need to take maybe half an hour to shave again. This constant need to shave, eventually began to grate on his nerves.
"Here I go again! Having to shave after just shaving this morning!" he would say.
"Well, I am sorry but you are not going to sandpaper my face! Those stubs are like (agujas) needles" my mom would always respond, and he would dutifully but reluctantly go and shave while grumbling.
Well, it just so happened that we were visiting my mothers sister, aunt Julia and her husband Alfonso, at their New York projects apartment, when my father noticed that her husband, Alfonso, a short, nervous, dark-complexioned fellow, who fancied himself a great poet and a philosopher of sorts, was in the bathroom standing before the bathroom mirror energetically plucking his beard-stubble with metal tweezers.
"Why don't you just shave?" my dad asked Alfonzo after silently observing the unusual phenomenon for a while.
"Becauth it growth back too thoon!" Alfonso responded with with his unusual habit of substituting a [th] for the letter and without pausing his energetic plucking rhythm.
"How many tymth do you shave?" he asked my dad as he continued to pluck.
"Me? Well, I shave two times a day. Once in the morning and once again in the evening. How many times do you shave?"
"I shave wonth every three months and my thskin ith a smooth as a babyth's for all that time."
"Once every three months?" my father replied in an awed, hushed voice, as if he had just heard a revelation of a profound nature uttered by some venerable sage.
"Yeth! Yeth muchacho! Wonth every three months and my thskin is as thmooth as babyth," Alfonso repeated as he continued rapidly plucking while his skin gradually began turning cherry-red.
"You should try it too, chico! That way you get rid of all that trouble of shaving two tymth a day!"
"Well, you know what? I might just do that!" thanks for telling me," my father responded, as Alfonzo finished his plucking, dried his face with a towel, grabbed this bottle of rubbing alcohol, poured a generous amount on the palm of his hands, and then, after bracing himself for the impending impact, slapped and rubbed it on his irritated face followed by a grimace of agony and a grunt.
"That sure looks like it hurts a lot!" my father, who was extremely averse to undergoing pain, said.
Alfonso didn't respond. No, not because he didn't want to-mind you, but because he couldn't. The pain's intensity had rendered him voiceless, and was only capable of groaning and shuddering while pressing a small white towel against his skin with the palms of both hands. Eventually, after the shock had finally worn off, and Alfonso had managed to regain his voice and ability to speak coherently, he responded with.
"Yeth Yeth. It does hurt like hell. But you have to do this to avoid any kind of infectionth."
Well, that day, upon arriving home, my father solemnly declared that he was seriously considering Alfonso's solution to his shaving-problem."
"You are going to do what? Pluck the hair from your face?" my mom asked astonished.
"Do you realize what plucking does? It leaves large gaping holes where each hair had been. You know how the look under the microscope?"
"No, how do they look?"
"They look like dark deep caves! That's how they look."
"How do you know that?"
"Because I saw them under a microscope when I was studying to be a nurse, that's how!"
"Alfonso does it, and he's perfectly OK!"
"So if Alfonso jumps off a cliff, does that mean you have to do it? Eh? Hipolito?"
"He says he goes a whole three months without shaving after each plucking."
"Well, one of these days some kind of germ in going to jump into one of those tunnels he is creating on his face and he will regret it!"
"Alfonso disinfects his face with alcohol after shaving!"
"Well. OK! Mira, (look,) You are an adult not a child. So you do as you wish. But you can't say I didn't tell you. I told you-right?"
For a few days, my father seemed to have heeded her warning. He kept on shaving twice a day as he usually did, and complaining about it upon arriving home. But one day, he came home and his face was smooth as a baby's butt.
"Wow! your face is really smooth today Hipolito!" she declared after he smooched and she didn't feel the usual sandpaper effect.
"Yep! And do you now why?" he asked proudly.
"Why?" she asked suspiciously
"Because I plucked my beard this morning in the same way Alfonzo does! Big difference, eh? No more double-shaving! No more turning away because I scrape you."
"So you ignored all my advice and you did it anyway? Right Hipolito? If something happens, deal with the consequences!" after a thoughtful pause she continued.
"You actually splashed alcohol on your face and went through all that that agony?" she added as an afterthought. She knew how very sensitive my father was to pain, and how he always tried to avoid it.
After a brief silence he responded with:
"Well, when I put a little bit on, I almost hit the roof. So I decided not to. Too much pain!"
"So you didn't disinfect the area? Muchacho! You are playing with fire!"
My father just ignored her and just concentrated an smooching as she continued to shake her head in disapproval.
Well, come the next morning, my dad looked in the bathroom mirror, and Lo and behold! a small white discoloration on the bottom of his chin.
"Alba! What is this on my chin?" he asked my mom as she was cooking breakfast. She turned around, looked at it briefly, and resumed what she had been doing.
"What do you think it is?" she said in a tense voice.
"I don't know. That's why I am asking you."
"Asking me? You want my opinion now? I clearly told you that you could get some kind of skin problem by yanking out your facial hair in that way! Why don't you go now and ask Alfonzo?"
Well, he waited several days for it to vanish, but it just kept spreading. Finally, he showed it to Alfonzo.
"I plucked my beard the same way you do and look what happened!"
"Did you splash your faith with alcohol, like I told you to?" Alfonzo asked suspiciously.
"No, that was just too painful!"
"Well, you can't pluck a beard without splashing alcohol to disinfect," Alfonso responded.
In short, he couldn't blame Alfonso, he couldn't blame my mother, he had only himself to blame for the vitiligio that he had to struggle with.
As the discoloration gradually progressed and he began to panic. He tried tattooing the discoloration in order to hide it, but to no avail. Within a few days, the tattoo would peel off revealing that the discoloration beneath it had expanded.
Soon it began to seem hopeless. Then they saw an advertisement in the Spanish Language Newspaper: El Diario La Prenza, describing the medical services of Puerto Rican physician named doctor Sais, and made an appointment to see him as their last hope.
During this entire experience, my mother had stopped her criticism and had started suffering my father's suffering. You see, despite their occasional bickering, my mom loved my father dearly at that time, so when the dermatologist shone a special light on him, revealing how he would eventually look after the vitiligio had spread all over his body, unless he received a very expensive treatment that was beyond their ability to afford, my mom was was devastated and began to weep bitterly.
That night, she decided to write the doctor a letter and used all her poetic talent in describing her profound love for my father, and begged the doctor to please provide the treatment that they could not afford in the name of her profound love for my dad.
The letter proved to be so moving, that the doctor agreed. Told her not to worry. That he would stop the spread of the vitiligio and limit it to that part of his chin and they would not have to pay him a single penny. So it was. Soon the spreading had been detained.
It was an intense expression of my mothers love that my father never forgot and always deeply appreciated.
Addendum: I recounted the events as I saw and remember them them and based on our conversations about them late in life. Whether the plucking triggered the vitiligio or whether the plucking simply coincided with it, I don't know. My parents thought so. External irritation of the skin can indeed trigger it as is stated below.
Known Vitiligio triggers include:
A severe sunburn
Injured skin (cut, scrape, burn)
Getting a strong chemical like phenol on your skin