My son, Sam, came home one day recently, took a look at me, and, in a tone that suggested something was just a bit off, told me I had a "shiny face."
"A shiny face?" I asked.
"Like Santa Claus," he said.
I knew exactly what he meant. The faces of Santa and Senators have a preternatural gleam. I had always assumed that Santa's glowing cheeks were the outward sign of his inner humor. I had long wondered how U.S. Senators, who are not known for their merriment, achieved their sheen. Now I knew because now I, apparently, also had it.
The luster comes not from an inner beauty, but from a scathingly hot barber's towel. I know because a few hours earlier, I was under that towel.
Usually, when I ask for a beard trim, the barber takes out the electric razor and shears my thick, Jerry Garcia hair-forest into a manicured lawn of follicles. It takes maybe five minutes.
But this particular day was nasty with rain and cold and the barbershop was a lonely, customerless place. Wanting something to while away her time, I suppose, the barber reclined the chair, told me to "take a nap," then wrapped my kisser in a towel so scalding I wondered if I would ever breathe again.
Just at the moment when I thought my skin was blistering off my face like something in a science-fiction movie, she pulled the towel off. Before I could say, "Well, that was refreshing," she swaddled my puss in another one. Then, she shaved me. Oh, and she did, then, mow the beard, as requested. When it was all over, I glistened. Like a Senator.
If, as they say, masters start looking like their dogs, do residents start looking like their cities?