The other day when my wife and I were on our way out to dinner, she asked why I hadn't shaved. I had shaved that morning, but I peeked in the mirror anyway and saw what looked like a three-day-old beard. It brought to mind some advice Dad gave many years ago. ''Don't start shaving until you have to or you'll regret it when you get older.'' I cringed every time I heard Dad say that. But now, as an adult who has to shave twice a day, I realize that Dad knew what he was talking about. Several months ago, my wife, my 12-year-old son, and I took our annual trip to my uncle's house in Florida. After we returned from a day at the beach, my son and I ended up sharing a bathroom. While I was cleaning up, I noticed he was staring in the mirror, paying particular attention to the new growth of peach fuzz on his upper lip. I couldn't help but think, ''Here we go again.'' I was 9 when watching Dad shave became a favorite pastime. Like most kids, I was intrigued with the prospect of looking older. Dad's daily routine began at 6 a.m., with me propped on the edge of the bathtub. He used what I named the five-step program: 1. Fill the sink with hot water and soften the beard. 2. Spread shaving foam evenly over the beard. 3. Slowly guide the razor along the contours of the face so as not to cause cuts. 4. Rinse the face and pat it dry with a towel. 5. Add a few quick splashes of aftershave. It was a couple of years later, when puberty kicked in, that I did start shaving. I was around 13 when I noticed peach fuzz had grown on my face. I can still hear Dad trying to talk me out of shaving, but my mind had been made up for years, so I took my allowance and headed to the grocery store. As I walked up and down the aisle, I got really confused. There must have been 50 different kinds of razors and shaving creams. I decided to play it safe and get the same kind Dad used. I was so excited to be entering manhood (at least I thought I was); I grabbed my items and proudly brought them to the cashier. That same night, after buying my shaving utensils, I locked myself in the bathroom to prepare for the five-step program. I decided to take some advice from friends who told me to shave my entire face with upward strokes so the hair would grow faster. I did and paid the price. I can still hear Dad laughing when he saw pieces of toilet paper stuck to my face where the razor had nicked me. My son has yet to ask me about shaving, and I'm hoping he doesn't. But if he does, I'll tell him the same thing Dad told me. And I know he probably won't listen, but that's just the way things are.