In Defense of Brylcreem

BrylcreemSome men have wonderful hair. It’s bouncy, full-bodied, and does whatever they want, whenever they ask. I hate these men.

If the Karma Fairies did their job right, these men would all have crabgrass, or unexpected car troubles, or other problems to deal with. But no. I have to have limp hair and have my car break down.

It’s Sunday morning, and the entire family is in the van on the way to church. I won’t say what make it was, but when I bought it, it had 90,000 miles on it and people said, “90,000 miles? On an X? Why, it’s as good as new!”

So we’re heading up the steepest hill, and all of a sudden the engine starts making noises like a thousand tiny elves are in the valve cover banging around with little ball peen hammers. We pull over first chance, and I look under the hood. Don’t ask me why. I know there’s nothing to see. But I look under the hood because that’s what guys do. “Sounds like a valve has come loose,” I say weakly. I’m not entirely sure what a valve is. But it makes my wife think I’m Mr. Fixit when I say things like that.

“So what do we do?” she asks.

“Limp to church, leave it there, and get rides home afterwards,” I say.

At this point the fourteen-year-old, who has thus far been obnoxiously know-it-all but not yet totally stupid, says, “But if we try to drive it to church, it could break down totally and we’d be stranded.”

I have always tried to be kind to the handicapped. There but for fortune, I figure, go I. So when the teenager makes a stupid comment, I try to be as kind as I can. “Um, son, if we stop here, we are stranded.”

At this point anybody but a teenager would have the humility to say, “Oh, yeah. I hadn’t thought of that.” Nothing doing. He starts to argue with me about why being stranded 2 miles from church is better than being stranded closer.

I have always wondered if this behavior is common to all teenage males, or just ours. He could be thinking about something in some other dimension, and accidentally blurt out something ludicrous, like “Boy the sky sure is ochre today,” and then instead of saying “Oops” and admitting his mistake, no matter how noodle-headed the mistake is, he’ll defend it in increasingly-tortured logic until the adult present says, “Okay, enough already, be still.”

Someday I’d like to do a behavioral-science experiment on him, like when monkeys continue to press the cocaine button instead of eat, and starve to death. I think he would argue until he died of starvation rather than admit he’s wrong. I wonder if I could get a grant for such an experiment? Surely it’s no sillier than most research projects you read about in the paper.

But I digress. We limp to church, get rides home, and ultimately have the van towed to a shop and a new engine put in. So now our debt-to-income ratio has ratcheted up a few notches, and the Sunday Morning from Hell is beginning that long, slow process of evolving from horrible-to-live-through to humorous-to-look-back-on.

But my point is that if the Karma Fairies were doing their job properly, Sunday mornings like that would only happen to men with perfect hair. We guys with the flaccid hair have suffered enough. We shouldn’t have to put up with that sort of thing as well.

My hair, I’m sure, is the worst hair in the world. What’s left of it, of course – most of it has gone AWOL. But around the sides and back there is still some left, and it’s miserable. In the seconds it takes to walk from the shower stall to the bathroom sink, it will dry in the most ludicrous and unyielding positions. No amount of water will persuade it to lie down and behave.

Which brings me to Brylcreem. I’m sure that the blatant prejudice we see in our society today against Brylcreem was started, and is propagated, by men with perfect hair and cars that never break down. But we men with the wimpy hair will take whatever we can get. If it takes Brylcreem to make our hair manageable, then so be it. Guys with the perfect hair need to shut up about it and allow those of us with the low-karma hair to keep it in place as best we can.

And if I could find them, I’d like to give those Karma Fairies a piece of my mind, too. No doubt they’d argue their ridiculous point with increasingly-tortured logic until I told them to be still. So my question is: who put fourteen-year-old males in charge of Karma?

Copyright © 1999-2012 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.

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