Thomas Wictor

Grampa can say anything

Grampa can say anything

I have far too many bizarre physical problems to list. Here are the major ones.

Three kidneys, three cowlicks, a baby tooth with no permanent tooth under it, no gastrocnemius on my right calf, the longest ear canals in medical history, and Meniere’s disease.

The weirdest issue is that when I shave, the skin on my face gets stiff. It turns into cardboard. I’ve tried disposable double razors, electric razors, straight razors, depilatories—everything. However I remove hair from my face, my skin turns into cardboard for twenty-four hours. This phenomenon was captured on film, September 7, 2012, the first time I saw Scott Thunes in twelve years.

Look at my mouth. I couldn’t smile normally because my skin wouldn’t shift around on top of my facial muscles. If you’d skinned off my face, I’d have a big grin, but the strange, ruler-straight, lipless expression that I’m exhibiting in this photo is because I’d shaved about two hours before I met Scott. Even pasting Scott’s mouth over mine doesn’t work.

The problem is with my skin. Sometimes I after I shave, my facial skin gets so tight that I have trouble speaking. It’s one of the stupidest maladies I’ve ever heard of.

When my parents’ cancers were diagnosed on January 16, 2013, I stopped shaving. Every night I fell into bed, and when I got up in the morning, I either had to spend the day next door, spend the day fighting with crooked Web designers at my computer, or spend the day trying to finish the Ghosts Trilogy. Since I hated shaving anyway, the stress was a good excuse to stop.

My doctor told me that it’ll take at least a year to physically recover from the effects of Mom and Dad’s deaths, so I’m going to keep my beard for at least that long. The funny thing is, it’s a great disguise, defensive weapon, and implement of diplomacy.

My neighborhood is overrun with gangbangers. These are genuine hardcore criminals who will just as soon kill you as shake your hand. They’re exactly like these guys. LANGUAGE WARNING.

My father picked fights with them all the time. At the age of eighty-two, he got into a shoving match with a gangster who then used a key to gouge his crew’s tag into the paint on the hood of Dad’s car. Some woman called 911 because she thought the poor old man was going to be murdered. The only one in danger was the gangster.

It’s amazing that Dad was never even scratched in these conflicts. I think it’s because despite his decrepitude he was still quite menacing. His instinct was to demolish; people who are utterly without fear are unnerving, even to gangsters. Dad unnerved me my entire life.

Though I never had any problems with gangbangers, they used to size me up before I had a white beard. Now, I don’t represent a threat, so they don’t bother me. I can even do things like comically open doors for them and say, “After you!”

They laugh and thank me.

Yesterday a beautiful Goth woman of about twenty-five was walking toward me on the sidewalk. She was blonde and very busty and…bottomy? A body like Kim Kardashian’s. Though I prefer women without makeup, I also like the Goth look. Just the look, not the lifestyle or the values.

As we came toward each other, I said, “Hey” and inclined my chin to show her I’m harmless.

“Hey,” she said. As she passed me, she added, “Great beard!

Once I was safely fifteen feet away, I turned and said, “It’s my secret weapon. Grampa can say anything. Watch: You are one fine-looking young woman. See? You didn’t find that offensive at all, did you?”

She laughed. “You know, you’re right. I didn’t.”

“You have a nice day,” I said.

“You too.”

If you’d known me even five years ago, you’d be flabbergasted that I now have the courage to sass beautiful young Goths. Some of it is the beard, which is a costume. But some of it is the current me. I don’t regret not having this self-confidence before. It simply wasn’t possible. I thought of myself as a pear-shaped flathead. I’m still a pear-shaped flathead, but with a white beard.

The difference is I’ve seen the elephant. Nothing scares me anymore. Like Dad, I’m fearless, but I don’t unnerve people. I’m not menacing.

My future beard-status is likely a trimmed version of the current mess. I probably won’t be clean shaven again. Not unless they can invent a new technique that doesn’t tighten my skin to the point where I can’t smile or talk.

Ladies, don’t use Botox. Shave your faces instead. My skin was like a drumhead after I shaved. You could bounce a quarter off it. The downside was that when I tried to smile, I looked like a salamander.

I prefer the grampa look. It’s safer and I can hit on young Goth women without them getting upset.

How many men my age can say that?

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