© Guy Hakim

 

Once, after brushing my teeth, I spat into the empty box for my electric razor instead of the sink, right onto the fuzzy lining that felt like the beard of my Talking G.I. Joe. I don’t remember what he used to say. Something like, Okay, boys, watch out! Of course there was only one of us, but I supplied a chorus of acolytes to grunt in unison. I was an early adopter at multitasking, and I may well have been brushing with one hand and shaving with the other. My father wasn’t there, but I can hear his voice as if I’ve pulled a cord in my chest. Can’t you walk and chew gum at the same time? We used Crest, and I still do, but I shave in my office while scrolling through new faces on the dating sites. When I see “no beards” and “past settled,” I stroke my chin thoughtfully for stubble and look for a woman who reads Faulkner. My likes vanish or else the echo stops two metres away. So many cloth masks now, stylish and coy, but look at me: I cover my head to hide all the blond locks gone missing in action. That clerk, she’d worn a hijab, and I’d kept her talking because her words had resonated, her faith in the cordless waterproof razor, that I could shower and shave at the same time. Tell me more, I’d said. Tell me how I can do this and still live.