The Shaving Cream of the Month Club

[fiction]

Dear Harry’s Grooming Products, LLC,

Thank you for the shaving cream of the month club. I have very much liked the Sea Breeze and Full Beard creams, but as I am only fourteen years old and not yet shaving every week, I have to ask you to please halt delivery of any more shaving products.

It’s not that I have found your products to my disliking. The Pumpkin Spice seasonal shaving cream included in the October shipment really smelled like the real thing and made me feel like I was walking around all day in a Starbucks, which was, I guess, distracting. And then Ron came over, Mom’s friend, and he kept asking why it smelled like Christmas. I don’t think Ron is very smart. He walks around the house in his dirty boots even though we have a tray by the door for shoes, which I have pointed out to him. Mom says it’s fine, that’s just Ron. But why is that just Ron? In any case, this isn’t about Ron, who does not, I think, receive the shaving cream of the month club because, for one thing, he can barely even grow a mustache—while in the picture I found of my father in Mom’s dresser, he has a full beard—and for another thing, if Ron did receive the shaving cream of the month club, he would know about the Pumpkin Spice seasonal shaving cream instead of not knowing anything.

You may notice that the name on the shaving cream of the month club account is Thomas Blanchard and that my name is Thomas (Tommy) Blanchard, Jr., and so you might have realized that Thomas Blanchard is my father and perhaps I could take this matter up with him instead of not taking it up with Ron? Unfortunately, I am in Ohio and I think my father is somewhere in Florida (maybe your billing department could confirm this?). When the first shipment of the shaving cream of the month club arrived six months ago, Mom scoffed and said my father must be trying to be a part of my life the same way his father had been a part of his, which I don’t really understand because, besides the shaving cream of the month club, my father isn’t part of my life (did his father also sign him up for the shaving cream of the month club?). I think my mom is pulling my leg the way she did when she told me Ron would be coming around the house now and then to help out and fix things but then he started to show up for Friday game nights and I said, But I thought Ron was here to fix things? What’s there to fix on Friday game night? and Mom said, Ron is fixing my heart, and I said, That seems wildly beyond Ron’s capabilities. Then Mom looked at me quizzically and said, That doesn’t sound like the Tommy I raised and maybe if given the chance Ron could show me that he’s capable of more than I think, which I thought about, but it didn’t really seem to add up. So when you told me Ron was here to fix things, I said, that was a lie? and she frowned and said, No, honey, I was just pulling your leg, and then she rubbed my hair and said, Oh my god, Tommy, why is there a bald strip here? It’s a racing stripe, I told her. 

Besides the shaving creams, I have also enjoyed the fine array of razors that are sometimes included in the shaving cream of the month shipments. (How cool that your new razors are state themed! I thought that was only quarters!) The South Dakota one really works, especially on the hair that has been growing on my scrotum. It’s times like these when a boy really wishes his father would maybe send a card or call once in a while instead of just doing the shaving cream of the month club, not that there’s anything wrong with it. It would just be nice, that’s all. I’ve considered bringing the situation up with Ron, but I don’t know what kind of experience he’s had in that department. Maybe while your billing people are looking up my father’s address, they could check to see if it’s an apartment building or a house or maybe some kind of halfway home situation where residents aren’t allowed to send or receive mail? 

One of the things about my father and Ron is that they’re so different. They’re like the difference between the Sea Breeze cream and the Full Beard cream. The Sea Breeze cream makes your skin tingle after you use it, while the Full Beard cream leaves your skin feeling extra soft and smooth. If this were an analogy, I would say that the Sea Breeze cream : my father :: the Full Beard cream : Ron, and that would probably be the right answer because when I think about Ron, I think about how everything he likes is soft and pointless, like the long, fuzzy cowboy movies he makes us watch after game night that puts us all to sleep. And when I think about my father, I get this buzzy sensation in my stomach and in my arms that makes me want to give myself a hug, even though I know that’s kind of wussy.

Ron says men are allowed to give themselves hugs, and even to hug other men. That that’s the whole point of all those cowboy movies, and it doesn’t make you a wussy, it makes you a full-hearted man. Mom says this is one of the great things about Ron. Mom says that my father never wanted to be seen being a “wussy” and so he was always fighting with everyone—with those who loved him and even with himself. But then Mom also says my father could be really funny when he wasn’t trying to be “macho” and I sort of take after my father in that small way. I want to ask Mom if it’s possible to love both my father and Ron, because Ron isn’t really funny. He’s sort of dull. I don’t see how it could be. But then when I think about it, I guess I like both the Sea Breeze and the Full Beard creams. Each one has their purpose. Like, I use the Sea Breeze cream when it’s time to remove my scrotum hair but on the other hand, when I wanted to shave the racing stripe through my hair, I reached for the Full Beard cream. I guess you could say that both products keep me looking fresh and performing my best. 

I would prefer that my father continue to believe that I am receiving the shaving cream of the month club. Therefore, please go ahead and keep charging him. Maybe you know a different fourteen-year-old who doesn’t have a dad and can grow a full beard that you could send your fine products to instead? Or maybe he does have a dad, this other boy, but his dad is like Ron and can’t grow a beard and therefore doesn’t know about the shaving cream of the month club, but is good in other ways, like sometimes takes the boy fishing and asks him how he’s feeling? I think this would be an ideal solution for all parties. Just make sure this other boy gets both the Sea Breeze and the Full Beard creams so that he can understand about how our hearts are big enough to love many things.

In closing, thank you very much for your time. I am sorry for how long this letter is. I guess I just had a lot to get off my chest. Let me know about the Florida thing if your privacy policy allows it.

Sincerely,

Thomas (Tommy) Blanchard, Jr.

Evan Fackler holds an MFA from UNC Greensboro, where he served as fiction editor at The Greensboro Review. He was 2015-16 Editor-in-Chief of Oxford Magazine. His work can be found or is forthcoming at Entropy Magazine, Great Lakes Review, and storySouth, where he is the contributing interviews editor. Find him sporadically on Twitter @evanchilli