Monday, September 01, 2014
`The Point of Style'
My fourteen-year-old’s barber recommended gel for his newly short hair. It comes packaged in a tube like glue. He’s freshly aware of such things, much given to mirrors and his reflection in windows. “Just checking,” he says. “Style, Dad.” I paid for the haircut and the goop, which reminds me of a product from my adolescence – Butch Wax (sounds like a lesbian bar) – and signed the slip. As usual, my signature is unrecognizable even to me. Since I was younger than my son is today I have wanted elegant handwriting but settle for chicken scratch. The barber, who smells heavily of cigarette smoke, though we have never seen her smoking, says, a little tartly, I think, “That’s your name?” I bite my tongue and console myself with Howard Nemerov’s “Writing”: “Still, the point of style / is character.”