Rusty Mitchum

Rusty Mitchum

I am rerunnin’ this one for Father’s Day. I wrote it 22 years ago and since then, my dad has gone to be with the Lord. This was one of his favorite stories. In fact, the preacher read it at his funeral. Anywho, here it is.

Are you a gadget person? You know, someone who likes gadgets? Man, I am. There’s only one person I know who likes gadgets better than me, and that’s my dad. The man loves gadgets. If a new gadget comes out on the market and it’s mechanical, then he has to have one, especially if it has to be ordered through the mail. You know, they make those ads sound so good.

Back when I was a kid, my dad was readin’ a magazine one day, and saw this little gadget. It was a nose hair trimmer. “One twist and your nose hair troubles are over,” the ad read.

Now, I didn’t know that my dad was havin’ nose hair troubles and he probably didn’t realize it either until this ad pointed it out to him. Well, Dad just had to have one of those gadgets, so he ordered one.

It was like watchin’ a little kid as my dad would come in from work in the afternoon.

“Did it come in, yet?” he’d ask.

“Not today,” Mom would say. Dad would get this look of disappointment on his face.

Finally, the big day arrived. Fortunately, I was there when Dad got home. Dad tore open the box. There in the box was a little silver two and one half inch rod lookin’ device. It had a knob on one end and a double row of circular blades on the other. By holdin’ the trimmer in the middle, and twistin’ the knob, the blades would move inside of each other. This was supposed to snip those pesky nostril hairs. It was a pretty neat little gadget if I do say so myself. Man, Dad was excited.

“Y’all want to watch me try this thing out?” Dad asked.

“Yes Sir!” I said excitedly.

“I think I’ll pass,” said Mom.

“Me too,” said my sister. You know, women just don’t know how to have a good time.

“Well, come on Rusty,” Dad said. “And maybe when you get old enough to grow some nose hairs of your own, I’ll let you use it.”

“Neat!” I exclaimed and we went into the bathroom, because Dad wanted to watch himself in the mirror as he used his new gadget.

Slowly, he pushed the little silver thing up into one nostril. Holdin’ it with one hand, he twisted the knob with the other. Dad’s eyes started gettin’ wider and wider as he twisted. It was as if turnin’ the little knob was openin’ his eyes. Finally, he stopped. His eyes were about the size of saucers. He looked at me through the mirror.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. His mouth would move, but no words would come out. It seemed that instead of cuttin’ the hairs, the gadget had grabbed each and every one of them and was holdin’ my dad’s nose hostage. He let go of the trimmer. It just hung there, swingin’ from side to side. Then I saw Dad bite his lower lip, grab the gadget with his ham sized hand, and give it a mighty jerk. Although I thought it was impossible, my dad’s eyes got even wider.

You know, up until that time in my life, I had never seen my dad shed a tear, but I did that day. Well, shed isn’t the right word. Actually, it was just one tear, and it shot out of his eye, across the sink, and splattered on the mirror. In his hand he held the little nose hair gadget. No longer could you see the rows of blades on the end. Instead, it looked like it was wearin’ a fur cap. Dad didn’t make a sound. He just stood there lookin’ at the furry topped gadget.

“Well,” I asked. “Are your nose hair troubles over?” He stood there for a while; his eyes returnin’ to normal. Finally, he grunted.

“In that nostril, I’m afraid so,” he said.

“Are you gonna do the other one?”

He thought about that question for a minute. “No,” he said. “I think I’ll go back to doin’ what the Good Lord intended all the time. I’ll jerk ‘em out one at a time.”

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. Give momma a hug for me and tell Jesus I said hey.

Rusty Mitchum lives in New Harmony, Texas, where he writes a regular column for The Lindale News and Times. He says the only reason he writes is to keep the voices away.