One of the best parts about the military is the leave system. We earn 30 days of paid vacation every year. Of course, we rarely have the opportunity to use all 30 days, but it’s always fun to watch the total rise and dream about all of the fun that we’re going to have during when we take off 45 straight days next year (we can always dream).
I decided to take a few days of leave this week. My excuse is that CinC HOUSE just had LASIK eye surgery on Saturday, so I’m staying home to help take care of her. While all of this is true, she was pretty much fully recovered by Saturday night, and she certainly doesn’t need my assistance. In reality, I just needed a few days off from work to recharge and get some momentum going.
There are a ton of things that I love about being on leave. I get to spend time with the family and walk our daughter to school. I get to sit down and play video games for awhile or just catch up on some reading. I also get to eat lunch and breakfast with the family which doesn’t seem all that cool unless you rarely get to do it. However, all of these things pale in comparison to the best part about being on leave. I don’t have to shave.
When I was 14 or 15 years old, I decided that I would try to raise my coolness level by growing a mustache. Every morning, I would run a disposable razor across the collection of zits on my upper lip. I would stare with awe at every piece of peach fuzz because it was proof that I was well on my way towards awesomeness. Someday soon, I would be asked to play bass guitar for Whitesnake and Cindy Crawford was going to check the North Dakota white pages for my number. It was all going to be due to that sweet ‘stache that was going to show up any day now.
I was starting to give up hope when something miraculous happened around the time I turned 17. The hairs stopped growing in blonde. They were no longer so thin that I could shave them off with a spoon. I think my upper lip probably developed them as a self defense measure against the torture that I was putting it through. The hair started growing in thicker and darker. If I went an entire week without shaving it off, you would even stop mistaking it for a shadow. Fame and fortune were just around the corner.
It turns out that my wispy upper lip didn’t actually make me famous. In fact, it didn’t even make me cool. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that Axl Rose designating me as his heir apparent probably wouldn’t have made me popular. What the miracle ‘stache did do was make boot camp incredibly painful. While you’re able to wear a properly groomed mustache in the Navy, that doesn’t apply to boot camp. When every one else was going weeks without shaving, I was breaking out the razor every morning in order to keep from doing 10,000 push-ups.
By the time I graduated from boot camp, it was no longer just the mustache that was growing in thick and strong. Now, my entire face needed attention. I couldn’t even let the ‘stache grow in because it looked so grotesque that I don’t think I would have been allowed within 500 yards of a school or Chuck E. Cheese. Shaving became a daily pain for me.
When I’m on leave, however, it’s time to just let it all grow. Sure, my wife won’t let me near her and the dogs seem to bark a lot, but it’s worth it. If I go to give my son a kiss and end up taking off half his face, well, that’s a price that I’m willing to pay. I’m sure he’ll understand once the skin grafts take hold.