Brushing with Brylcreem
Last week, Janet and I decided that we needed new electric toothbrushes. Well, really, she needed a new one and when I went to the store to look at them, there was a sale on the dual pack that contained two units, as well as a travel charger, so I figured I might as well get a new one as well. It’s been kind of a crazy week, as they all are, so I didn’t have a chance to open them until today.
I really have to be careful about dental stuff. As a young kid, I really wore my teeth down, and about twenty years ago, I need crowns or veneers on every tooth in my head. That’s right, every one! So, I think I have eighteen crowns and my front teeth are all veneered. Believe me, it isn’t some vanity thing, but I used to grind my teeth and really did some serious damage. In fact, the dentist would like me to re-do them, but at a cost of more than $25,000 for the new crowns, and no insurance for the procedure, I am having a hard time with this unless it becomes a medical necessity.
Anyway, as I was unpacking the new toothbrushes, I remembered one of those dumb things I have done in my life – back when I was a young boy, in the late ’50’s, on Claremont Avenue on the south side of Chicago. We lived in a rather small home. It had two floors; and the three bedrooms and the full bathroom we all shared were upstairs. I can’t believe how many memories I have of that bathroom.
I used to love to talk with my Dad while he shaved and got ready for work each morning, so I would go into the bathroom, and we would talk; about everything. It was in that small bathroom that I presented the argument to my Dad that 1+1=11. After all, anybody can see that if you put a “1” next to another “1”, you had “11.” And it was in that bathroom that I took my first pad of paper and tried to learn to write, as Dad taught me how to form the letters. I remember that I sat on the lid of the toilet seat as I watched him shave – as he was instructing me.
Of course, there was also the time, as a youngster, that I wasn’t tall enough to reach the top shelf of the built-in medicine cabinet, where Mom stored stuff, so I went to stand on the toilet to give myself a boost – only the lid was open, and I almost broke my foot as the entire weight of my leg, including my slipper, and pajamas, plunged into the cold water and my foot got stuck! I’m sure I don’t have to draw you a picture. It was pretty embarrassing.
But for some unknown reason, the dumbest thing I ever did in that bathroom involved a toothbrush. One day, after Dad left for work, it was my turn to get ready for school. I decided that I would pretend that I was blind, so I could experience what people went through each day when the did not have the gift of sight. Now I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or anything – it was just that I knew the bathroom routine so well, that I thought it would be easier to try this experiment in a familiar environment.
All our toothbrushes were lined up in the holder; and I knew exactly which one was mine. After all, there is nothing more disgusting that using someone else’s toothbrush. I took one last look around that familiar room and then closed my eyes…..
Things started out okay. I felt for the toothbrush holder, counted over to the third slot (Dad, Mom, me….then my brother Doug), and pulled mine out. Ken, our youngest brother, wasn’t born yet. I opened the medicine cabinet above the sink, and felt for the toothpaste, set down the brush while I opened the cap on the tube, and then proceeded to actually get the paste on the brush. I recapped the tube, and started to brush. Something wasn’t right – it smelled funny and was the wrong consistency. I decided to cheat, and opened my eyes. I was brushing with Dad’s Brylcreem…
Now, for those of you too young to know about this product, Brylcreem was a hair product. It came in a tube and was used to keep your hair in place – kind of like a hair gel today. Dad always used it as the last step before he left the bathroom in the morning, just before he brushed his hair. Even then, his hair was thinning, and for the life of me, I don’t know why he used that stuff, but he did. Remember the slogan – “Brylcreem, a little dab’ll do ya …….”, sung to a catchy little tune? Well, it’s better for hair than it is as toothpaste!
So how does this relate to Scripture? Well, most people don’t realize that keeping your hair neat and tidy was very important in the Old Testament, especially for the priests. So much so, that there are a number of passages on this subject. In honor of Brylcreem users everywhere, the verse tonight is from Lev. 10:6. Moses is instructing Aaron, the high priest, and his sons, about the necessity of maintaining proper grooming, “Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community……” So they did as Moses said.
My encouragement today is that we still have a responsibility to God to honor him with the way that we present ourselves to Him. Today, this does not necessarily mean just our outward appearance, but our total preparation to be in the presence of the Lord. My prayer is that we will all look for ways to be pleasing to God; the way that we prepare and present ourselves to Him is an attitude of worship. Grace and Peace…