Super silky smooth. That’s my face right now. Super silky smooth, and a little tender.
Coming out the other end of another Christmas season. It was another great year in the OlfertWiens house. A year full of landmarks and learning on the kiddo front but then it seems they all are if you are paying attention. When you’re a dad of 15 and 12 and 12 year old boys you see growth all over. Some of the growth was vertical with ben lapping me last year and topping out at 6’3” (at least for now) and Sam and Jonah stretching like weeds and all of them with that improbable look of kids who have done a lot of growing up and not a lot of growing out just yet. Some of the growth was otherwise with challenging school relationships forcing considerations of what friends are and what they look like. Being 15 and 12 and 12 is tough stuff.
Jonah and Sam took on Volleyball this year and played with enthusiasm. I coached the team and watching those boys seeming to improve by the minute was a thing of beauty. Our team went from not winning a single match all year to taking gold in the year end tournament and I took a deep breath of relief… seems I wasn’t lying to them when I kept insisting that if they kept playing like they were the wins would come. And come they did in just the thinnest nicks of time.
Ben is in the heart of basketball season, a game he dedicates a formidable portion of his formidable brain to understanding and a formidable portion of his formidable skill to mastering. Basketball is a rollercoaster this year as he is leaned on more by his team and the (not often taller but often substantially thicker) defenders that he posts up against. He scores points and plays every game as one of the youngest players on his team and I am so proud of his dedication and hard work and probably the teensiest bit prouder of his stepping into the friction and contact found in dressing rooms and on courts… not a nothing thing for a introverted and thoughtful kid.
Nik continues to impact lives in amazing ways in her classroom. Her grade 1 students love her passionately and she them. Teaching is a tough job made tougher by some governmentally generated uncertainty here in Albertaland, but she does it and does it so well. I am so proud of her and her work. She continues to love taking our goofy dogs for walks and adding her sparks of joy and love to our little house in the woods.
And me? To answer the openers: Still doing the camp thing. 15 years. No plans to leave. Camp still manages to give me more than I feel I can possibly return. I was asked recently if I saw this a job I could retire from and the honest answer is I don’t know. I had a low energy moment after staff training last July where I was honestly assessing if I was too old for this game but then a few short weeks later I sat smugly in my office after a long day and thought to myself: I’m finally getting good at this.
Maybe that last part is true… hopefully. But I’m mostly happy and mostly content and as I set up for another summer I do so with a degree of enthusiasm that is higher then some years and lower then others but enthusiasm none-the-less.
There, that’s the update. If that’s what you came for then you’re welcome. If not, you’re out of luck!
I write this while I sit warm and snug in a library in Cochrane and wait for the tire shop to call and tell me my car is ready. They called once but only to insist on an alignment and so here I am with hours to fill on a cold winter day and wouldn’t you know it, I have a gift card.
Nik bought me a gift card for a hot shave. A thing I’ve contemplated but would likely never have spent money on for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly good at spending money, I just tend to spend it on outdoor gear, coffee, and… other things I guess? I seem to be good at spending it anyway, but I would never have dropped the coin on a shave but for my lovely wife.
So I dropped into our local “Mancave” style barber that is spreading across our country and put myself on the list. I have to admit that post shave my face is probably the smoothest it has been since I was 14. As is my wont when there is nothing to do but think… like when your face is covered in lovely smelling hot towels… I spent time considering my surroundings.
Here I am, a fortysomething in a shop that seems to have been made just for the stereotypical version of little old CIS gendered hetero me. Whatever you want to drink, sports and cooking shows on the many tvs, and beautiful young women here to take care of me. This makes me mildly uncomfortable, but it gets me thinking.
This place is busy. On a Thursday morning. Not lined-up-out-the-door busy, but busy enough that I wait 20 minutes to be assigned someone to look after me and when I am it is indeed a beautiful young woman. Young enough and beautiful enough to make me acutely aware of what is and what is not appropriate in our interactions. Those that know me well know that I have never been accused of being a flirt. This stems, I think, not so much from not knowing what to say but more from a pathological need for people to not be creeped out by me leaving me civil and oh-so-careful with my interactions with anyone my little brain fears might misinterpret my attention. That probably makes me come across as creepy from time to time… ah irony, you are beautiful and terrible master.
Anyway, I have been assigned and I am being civil.
I notice the music. Music from my high school days. Everclear and Smashmouth. I smile. Oh man, I think, I wonder if these guys realize they are being so overtly manipulated and then start tapping my foot because I love this song.
I am hot towelled and my face is massaged. I am oh-so-carefully shaved. She fusses over redness on my neck and applies more lotion and cream. She leans in close as she works and smiles and makes small talk. This is likely more effort put into one shave than all the shaves I have given myself in the last 10 years. I am pampered. I am cared for.
Part way through the experience I noted that the guys who came in after me were greeted by name at the door. They are regulars. I consider this.
I am reminded of my mom’s salon in Pennsylvania. I am reminded of the women who come in once a week to have their hair done. “They do it for human contact.” My mom told me.
The shave is a by-product. This might be important.
I consider the lonely and isolated and desperate men I have interacted with. I think how good it feels to be fussed over.
Human contact is so desperately important. This is a thing we forget or deny but it is still a thing. We need it to thrive. This man-cave place might be helping these men thrive. This might be important.
Or maybe it’s just the closest shave I’ve had in years. Maybe.