My step-dad would never tell you what he wanted for Christmas. He would always insist he already had everything he needed.
Not that I doubted it. He was an extremely simple man who was wearing his same robe and eyeglasses well into his 80s. Still, it was Christmas — we had to get him something!
That something was almost always a bottle of Aqua Velva. Because a kid could never go wrong with that one. And he was always so polite about it, acting like he’d just unwrapped the Holy Grail itself. Then he’d walk it to the bathroom, open the medicine cabinet, and set it in there with the other dozen or so half-empty bottles from the previous 12 Christmases, Father’s Days, and Birthdays.
I laughed aloud at this Aqua Velva video (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=215081558657634) because it reminded me that you always knocked before entering the bathroom in our house. Or else. Darwinism was alive and well in my family and nobody ever apologized to anybody else for anything like this. If you’re going to open a door without knocking, well, that’s your problem.
I’m pretty sure he refused to lock the door as part of his effort to make some kind of statement. And he managed to turn it up to 11 by adding a Tareyton hanging off his lower lip. (Trust me when I say there are no worse smells in the world than the delightful wafting of second-hand smoke mixed with last night’s meatloaf. I never had any issues changing our boys’ diapers and that was because I spent about 15 years walking in on this man, his sports page, and those Tareytons.)
Even so, I do miss the man. Every time I find myself in a drug store at Christmas, I wander over to the cheap cologne aisle to see if there’s a bottle of Aqua Velva that I can open and revisit 1978.