Hair today. Gone tomorrow.
Well, that about sums up my latest Beard experiment. What once was found, has now been lost… AGAIN!!!
It all goes back to that damned Return of the King. I remember somewhere around Hour 15 of that 2003 epic when my mind began to wander. It seemed every hero sported some kick-ass face fur. Yeah, those were real men, baby. Now I’m secure enough to admit that when I first gazed upon Viggo’s well-kept scruff, I thought to myself, “Yeah, a beard ought to make a man of me.” Hey, things could have been much worse. Can you imagine me with Frodo’s Frampton Comes Alive do?
So three years back, I began the first of what would quickly become an annual rite. Year after year, the same little dance developed where sometime in the gulf between Thanksgiving and Christmas – when my office clears and the eyewitnesses dwindle to manageable amounts – I would shun the Shick and begin cultivating my countenance.
It’s kinda’ like that Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee commercial that is in heavy rotation these days – where the camera stays fixed on one guy as the seasons change. Through a hundred or so quick cuts, his styles morph but his choice in Iced Coffee remains the same. I noticed on my second viewing that the guy grows and shaves and regrows a beard around three times in a year. That spot recently came on during the Pats-Chargers playoff game at which time I exclaimed – “Who the hell grows a beard three times in one year?” To which Sean responded – “You do!”
He’s got me there. I just shaved Beard Number 2 of this fledgling winter season and we haven’t yet seen a full inch of snow.
I have no problem growing these things, I just can’t seem to keep them. Just when things start taking shape, something comes along to force my hand and coax me to jump ship. It used to come down to comfort. Sure, a nice sheen of stubble looks cool and all but that’s fleeting. You look all bad-ass for about 2 days and then the itch comes. And with the itch comes the scratch. And with the scratch – the madness. You try to busy your brain… to think about other things. Bed bugs. Shorn Sheep. Fiberglass insulation. Anything to get your mind off the scratching.
Three years and nine attempts later, I’ve learned to live past the itching. A few days and 32,000 CC’s of Codeine helps to weather the storm.
So just when the road to Man Town seems traffic free, another obstacle pops up and impedes my commute.
That itching I can deal with. What ultimately prompts me to whack the whiskers is one comment in the negative from someone… ANYONE!!! I could have an entire Greek Chorus singing my ‘goat’s’ praises but nothing deep-sixes the five-o-clock shadow faster than some Kojak calling me a Kazynski.
This year would be different I swore. I was determined to let the stubble stick. I would ignore the naysayers and see the beard through to its conclusion. No amount of peer pressure would make my peach a nectarine.
Until one chilly December morn. I walked into work with my chin a comfortable 79 degrees. (“Ahhh, the benefits of homegrown insulation.”) Knowing I was kick-starting the day with a 9 a.m. client call, I headed to our meeting space to join my coworkers and show them what a man was supposed to look like. (Spare me your Clive Owens and Ty Babalonia.) I wasn’t in that conference room more than five seconds before one of my colleagues looked over and said “Hey Bunyon. Where’s your ox???” As if lumberjack is the only profession a bearded man can hold down. For starters, such facial follicle profiling is offensive. There are plenty of reputable professions available for bearded dudes. Carney!?! Professor!?!?! Arghhhh, what about Sea Captain?!?!?!?!
“That’s it!!!”, I declared. “I’m shaving it off.” By the time my ass hit the seat, the beard was gone and the guy next to me looked like a Wookie – and not the Chewie kind either. One of those weird looking warrior ones with the wacky headdress in that Sith flick.
One of these days I’ll keep it; at least through a full month. I’ve taken unofficial surveys and the poll numbers seem to favor the fuzz – this is no lame duck Van Dyke we’re talking about. I’ve often asked Andi what she thinks and she refuses to answer. She says that no matter what she says, I’ll end up shaving it off. For the record, she has said I look good with the beard. Personally, I feel it has its perks as a weight loss substitute. Fat guys look a helluva lot thinner when their face is erased.
Oh, as for that guy who lobbed ‘Lumberjack’ my way. He took off for vacation the very next day and returned to the office a week later. Once again, I made my way to the conference room for our weekly client call. As I settled into my seat, I gazed across the table to find a slightly despondent database administrator. Sporting a newly minted Varitek, he meekly asked:
“I thought we were all growing beards this year?”
Hmmm, maybe it’s high time I Ginsu that Gillette.