December 8, 2011

Do you like this?

I recently added a beard to my “look.” I say “look” because you can’t help but notice from several blocks away the grey chinstrap I’m now sporting. And, with the addition of the noggin follicles I’ve also allowed to return, I’ve gone from looking like a cue ball with glasses to some salty old buccaneer or at best, the “most interesting man in the world.”

I haven’t had a beard since 1988. My girlfriend back then preferred facial hair on her man. But with our relationship’s demise, my best friend encouraged me to “shave that shit off” with a dull disposable razor in an Italian washbasin on our backpacking journey through Europe that summer.

Seems with the return of my beard a month ago, however, my long-gone girlfriend might have been on to something. The ladies seem to like my new look. “How distinguished,” “It’s sexy,” “NOW you look like you know what you’re talking about,” they all say as my boys still lament that I should “shave that shit off.”

I don’t know if the guys are as jealous of the generous facial feature I can grow as I am of the full, thick head of hair they so callously take for granted—or if it’s the attention from the ladies—but the dudes are adamant about their feelings towards my razor revolt.

I, on the other hand, turned to the pages of history to remember those deemed intelligent, handsome and respected by the ladies, likely because they brandished a beard. Ernest Hemingway, Abe Lincoln (and nearly every president during the 1800s), the ZZ Top dudes, Santa Claus, Jesus and even Colonel Sanders all famously, and unapologetically, sported beards.

My daughter has her own opinion about it. “You look old,” she said. When I informed her that daddy IS in fact “old” by some people’s standards, she quipped back, “not when you shave.” Ah, from the mouths of babes. But she’s right, I do look older—and that has its ups and downs.

With the exception of my current jawbone coif, I haven’t had more than three days of lazy, razor-less action since ’88. And when my receding hairline starting looking more like a beach at low tide, I began sporting the Mr. Clean look up top as well. People said my smooth, bald appearance shaved at least five years off my age. I even started getting carded for mouthwash and maraschino cherries. Life was good.

When wintertime came however, the lack of fur on my face and head chilled me to the bone. They say 98 percent of body heat escapes through your head and without hair I could definitely attest. Unless a hat and scarf were within quick reach, I could feel the effects of Old Man Winter worse than the average bear. The chills with each blast of winter air became excruciating at times. And the snow….well we don’t wanna talk about God’s snowcone maker unloading onto the thin skin that gently covers my thinker. Talk about brain freeze.

So, with the sad demise of Steve Jobs, a man I admired for his design, integrity and business sense, I decided that the perfect tribute to him (and wintertime preparation) would be to emulate as much as possible his really cool “same-length-all-over” beard/hair combo. It took just two weeks to grow out and I’ve found that a Number One guard on my trimmer exercised once or twice a week works nicely to keep the wild hairs at bay.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but by growing my crops after Halloween I’d inadvertently joined the ranks of the “No-Shave November” initiative. Thinly disguised as a charity benefit for testicular cancer and various other manly afflictions, this tradition calls for clean-face participants to abstain from shaving any hair growth for the entire 30 days of November. All I know is that I’m constantly pointed to as a participant and continuously asked my charity of choice. I tell them I’m benefiting “male pattern baldness” and leave it at that.

Fact is, people in general have a love/hate relationship with facial hair. Moustaches are generally considered cheesy, unless you’re a fireman or Tom Selleck. Soul patches are meant for horn players. And beards are best when they’re either close to the chin, grown to the ground, or shaved up to split the muttons from the goatee.

Bottom line though, if it works—keep it. Changing up your look every now and then keeps people guessing, reinvents you in some small way, and might even generate a new level of attractiveness you might be willing to keep, even when the sun comes back out. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Chuck Crowder is a local writer and general man about town. His opinions are just that. Everything expressed is loosely based on fact, and crap he hears people talking about. Take what you just read with a grain of salt, but pepper it in your thoughts.


December 8, 2011

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