Thursday, July 18, 2013


I was 30 years old when I first shaved. Not that I was an exceptionally late bloomer. Simply that when the peach fuzz appeared around 18 years old, I just let it be until it finally became a full-fledged beard. When I hit the ripe old not-to-be-trusted age of 30, I decided to commemorate the occasion by shaving my virgin beard. In secret. To surprise my wife.

I happened to be up at the summer cottage in Lake Michigan and it happened also to be the only time my parents ever visited there. So I plotted with my Dad to awake early so he could help me and teach me how to shave. It was a manly father-son bonding ritual and went off without a hitch. Except that when I returned to bed waiting for my wife to wake up, she slept for two more hours until I finally began clearing my throat loudly and she awoke with the anticipated shriek. And I’ve shaved every day from that moment on.

Yesterday shaving in the same bathroom and looking at the same mirror, I thought about that moment and about my Dad. A quick calculation and I realized that he was 62 years old when we did that. And here I was, a very different face in the mirror, about to arrive (in ten days) at the same age. 62.

After shaving, I had a brief chat with my sister on the phone. She is in L.A. commemorating the anniversary of our mutual Zen teacher’s arrival in the U.S.. What year did he arrive? 1962.

1962 also was the year that Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman came to Toronto for the first (and last time) to firmly plant the seed of the Orff Schulwerk in North America. I was 11 years old and wholly ignorant of a future determined both by Orff and Zen practice. But it turns out that 1962 was to be significant for me.

While writing this, I opened randomly to a page of the Ben Sidran book (see “Cut the Rainbow!”) searching for some jazz milestone from that year and—I kid you not—came upon this sentence: “On July 12, 1962, Bob Dylan went into a demo studio and recorded the song “Blowin’ in the Wind.” 

What else in music from 1962?

• The Girl From Ipanema topped the charts.
• The Beatles released their first single Love Me Do.
• A band called The Rolling Stones was formed.

Finally, I played my daughter Talia in Boggle, an annual ritual to increase her self-esteem and insure my humility. Naturally, she trounced me. And the score?

Doug: 34

Talia: 62!

It was a banner day for Numbers Nerd.

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