Sunday, October 09, 2005


Happy Rob
Jim, he of the Place to Pull Over by the Side of the Road and Pee, wrote a post about Facial Hair - no doubt inspired by that cherubic picture of a mutual friend.

[Damn, that picture is pretty cherubic, innit? It would work real well as a sidebar photo, but then Rob might have to change his name to Mr. Butterworth or some-such.]

Me, I have a long and happy history with Facial Hair, though you’d never know to look at me today.

I grew a moustache in 1970, and, except for one year of clean-shavenness, wore that sumbitch continuously until three years ago. From time to time, I also sported a beard: for a year or so in college, for a month in the late 1980’s, and then most of the time from the early 1990’s until I ditched all of the facial hair three years ago.

Elisson and Mom, May 1984
Moustachioed Me, with Mom - May 1984.

I liked the beard. It gave me a nice, rabbinic look as well as providing a distraction as the hair up top began to get thinner - but as time went on, it took on a salt-and-pepper appearance, and the salt was gaining.

Elisson in Naples, 2002
Salt and pepper, mostly salt.

Maintaining a beard is not a complete walk in the park - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As Jim points out, unless you want to look like something the cat barfed up on the rug [and it’s always the rug, dammit], you have to keep the edges of that thing trimmed...which is more work than running a razor indiscriminately over your pan.

One night in November 2002, I suddenly got the brainstorm to just shave the damn thing off. I decided to be sneaky about it. She Who Must Be Obeyed was in our bedroom, watching the tube, and I just wandered into the master bath and started trimming and scraping.

It took a long time, maybe 30 minutes or more. Parts of my face had not seen an unobstructed view of the world since 1980, and it was a strange feeling to have air blowing on them. When I was done, I walked out of the bedroom quickly, so SWMBO wouldn’t see me right away.

My plan had been to slip into bed and surprise her. But when Elder Daughter saw me, she broke out laughing. She hadn’t seen a Clean-Shaven Daddy since her infancy - it was a new experience for her - and the sound of her laughter alerted SWMBO that Something Was Up.

When the Missus saw me, she freaked. Damn near threw me out of the house. It took an hour to get her calmed down. Who was this fresh-faced stranger? Gaaaahhhh! I am convinced that if I had actually managed to slip into bed without her noticing, her wheels might have come completely off the track, at great physical risk to The Old Nutsack.

The Mistress of Sarcasm arrived home for Thanksgiving a couple of days later. If anything, she was more bent out of shape than the Missus was. She had never seen me without Hair on my Face: it was as if a Body-Snatcher had replaced her Daddy, but had somehow fucked up the details.

Everybody eventually got used to my new look, even me. Feeling the breeze on my face was a novel sensation for weeks. But there was a positive side effect. As Jim puts it,
I believe that facial hair (beards in particular) add five to ten years to the wearer’s appearance. This may be cool in one’s twenties and maybe even in one’s thirties in order to go for the mature, distinguished look. However once one enters the fourth or fifth decade, who needs an additional five or ten years on their mug?
Too true, Parkway Man.

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