So I decided to grow a beard.
Well, not exactly. I decided to not shave, causing, not unexpectedly, the beardification of my face. Days later, as my face started to resemble a diseased briar patch, I considered making the effort to break out my razor. That’s precisely when Sarah took notice. “Hey, is that a beard?” she said. And also, “I sure like it.” And then, “Why don’t you grow that out some more?” And finally, “C’mere, you mountain man.”
I’d grown a beard before, which is to say when I was a college freshman, I stopped shaving for four months. What resulted wasn’t so much a beard as a proto-beard. It was more mature than peach fuzz, but not by much. Let’s call it naked mole rat fuzz. It wasn’t pretty.
By spring break, I felt I had proved my point, so I shaved it to a goatee. I remember sitting down in chemistry class that first day of spring quarter, and having my friend turn to me, see me goateed, and proclaim “Awesome! This makes you so much more fuckable.” Which, okay, may have been true, but was still pretty creepy. I should have taken that as a cue to end that awful experiment, but I pressed on.
The goat stayed on for about five years, more or less. You have to remember, this was the ’90s, and goatees were FUCKING HOT. It would have stayed on longer, too, if not for a little movie called Road to Perdition, in which I starred as Despondent Depression-era Worker #2087. After
my audition sending in a headshot, the casting intern called me up to ask if I could “shave that little goatee.” I guess it wasn’t historically accurate. I begrudgingly obliged, as a commitment to the craft.
Once Sarah and I started dating, and she saw photographic proof of my earlier hirsuteness, she made me take a blood oath never to grow “that nasty thing” back. Which makes it all the more surprising that she’s in favor of the beard. I guess the beard has an organic, less presumptuous look about it. It certainly makes me look older, and I guess anything that makes up for our discrepancy in age, if not maturity, is a good thing.
It’s been a month now, and I’m getting to the point where I have to decide what to do with it. Is it a long-term thing, or just a winter experiment? Should I start trimming, or should I let my grizzly flag fly?
If I let it grow long, the fashionable thing seems to be growing the beard for a cause. (cf. Conan, Letterman and others vis-à-vis the writers’ strike.) So I guess I just need to settle on my own cause. No shave till… Cheney’s impeached? Obama wins the nomination? A meteor hits Mars? Chicago doesn’t get the olympics? Suggestions welcome.