La version française de ces histoires se trouve sur En direct de l'intestin grêle

Wouldn't it be great if these stories were true? Unfortunately (or fortunately) they're not; they are just the product of my overworked mind. All characters and events are fictitious and if you think you recognize yourself or somebody you know in these stories, it was not my purpose and it is purely unintentional. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy reading this blog. Feel free to link this blog wherever else you hang out on the Internet and to post comments below. I enjoy hearing from you.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Geoff’s Beard

When people ask why I have a beard, I feel like they are asking why my eyes are brown. So I always give the same answer: I have worn a beard since I was a toddler and I even have a photograph to prove it.

children, beard, older ladies, dinner table,
The author at age 6. Despite being obviously talented, I never made it as a Photoshop artist...

Alas! This is far from the truth and Straight from the Bowels is the perfect platform to set the record straight. Let me tell you the story.

Years ago I lived in a small town in northern Canada; not the Great White North, but the Average Grey North nevertheless.

It was a miserable autumn night: cold, with relentless rain coming down furiously, trying to decide whether it should turn to snow or not.

I worked as a caretaker in a youth shelter, helping troubled teenagers cross over to adulthood. You know the story: kids having problems with drugs, alcohol, prostitution, petty crimes, and loneliness. Sometimes teenagers came to us on their own, sometimes it was their parents who would bring them saying: “Please take him/her, I don’t know what to do anymore!”

Often I felt like we should have been taking care of the parents.

That night I was alone. The five rooms of the old house were empty. I was reading in the kitchen by the woodstove which I was using before winter to save furnace oil.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door: it was two policemen with a young man, about thirty, dressed poorly, wet as a rag and holding a backpack in his hands.

– This “gentleman” came to the police station and asked us to keep him overnight. We’re not a hostel and he has no money. We could have left him in the streets but we would have had to arrest him later in the night for loitering so we brought him here since we know you sometimes accommodate people.

The logic used in the police force sometimes escapes me and I answered:

– This is not a hostel either but I will take this man as a guest since it is just wrong to leave anybody outside in such weather.

The two officers looked at each other, relieved they would not have to make an arrest, write a report and maybe stand as witnesses in front of a judge for an insignificant case.

When the two cops were gone, the young man humbly thanked me and told me his name was Roland.

“Welcome Roland. Take off your coat, put your bag in the corner and come and get warm near the stove. Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?” I added while giving him a towel so he could dry off.

I warmed up a big pot of stew I had on the electric range and served a generous helping to my guest who began wolfing it down as I made some tea.

While he was eating, Roland told me he had been hitchhiking to a small town 150 miles away to begin a new job that the halfway house had found him. He had just finished serving several years in jail for various offenses and wanted to start a new life, away from the city, hoping people would give him a second chance.

I have nothing against second chances nor third or fourth if necessary. Actually I would be at loss to know when a person should be considered beyond help.

Roland and I talked for some time, and then I took him to his room and wished him a good night.

When I got up in the morning, my guest had already gone, without a word, without a note. I put a log in the woodstove, made coffee and went to freshen up.

After my shower, I was getting ready to shave when I realized my electric razor was gone. In its place there was a shaving brush, a disposable razor and a can of shaving cream.

disposable razor, shaving brush, white mug, shaving cream, shaving kit, bathroom sink
The shaving brush can be traced to 18th century France where it is called a blaireau (badger) since the bristles are often made from the hair of that animal. Although at the time it was considered a status symbol to own such a brush, I find shaving using a straight or disposable razor and a shaving brush a tedious process.

Some people will say that the man I had kindly sheltered and fed ran away discreetly after committing his petty theft.

I would rather think that it was the Almighty or the Great Goddess who was sending me a sign. Or maybe it was the Great Vishnu himself – or one of his avatars – who came down from Heaven to take away my razor and make me understand it was time for me to rise above the ranks of the beardless.

That day I started to grow a beard. I have no regrets since wearing a beard is one of the few things I do well.

Vishnu, Indian god, baby, toddler, golden jars, white substance, shaving soap
The Indian god Vishnu as a child is sitting with two large jars of shaving soap he probably stole from people he wanted to grow a beard.