I was always ready to grow a beard. I started as soon as I could and lived the bearded life from that day forward. The last day of my recurring clean shaven life was the day I took my grad photo in high school. It was whispy and crappy for a long time, barely connecting mustache to beard until I was in my early twenties. And then I hit the point of no return, knowing that any attempts to go back to a smooth face would cause pain and razor burn and bleeding and bad skin. I think I shaved my face less times than fingers I possess on one hand. Well, today, is perhaps the thumb.
In one way or another, we’re all caught up in some form of groupthink or peer pressure as we’re forced into our homes and even more onto social media for human contact. Whether it’s baking or knitting or learning to code or gardening or whatever your analog distraction has been, sharing these new endeavours is how we’ve been feeling connected. While not one to generally follow the trend, I have been admiring the coronastache phenomenon with a bit of envy. Some of my friends have fostered impressive dental drapes. Bucking the trend, I decided for the first time in probably 8 years I was going to clean shave my face. For fun.
I prepped by digging out my twice-used cheap electric razor. I thought I should open it to give it a clean. Within was desiccated detritus I couldn’t recognize. Thinking back, I remembered that while my year-gone father was in the hospital I brought the razor so he could have a clean shave. One of the several angelic nurses who helped my dad in his final weeks happily gave him a shave after one of his few hospital showers. Gone and buried, I was looking at some of the last remains of my dad, like it was DNA gold I could use to resurrect him in some sci-fi fantasy. It was another one of those moments like scrolling past his photo on my phone or seeing his email address in a list of contacts that just pulls out the earth from below my feet. Luckily now, I have more power to not let it ruin a morning. I tapped out the dusty solids of hospital soap and grey whiskers and scrubbed the razor clean, storing the thought but letting it take me no further down. I used my beard trimmer to do most of the work and immediately felt a cool breeze under my lip. Post-shower I used that razor to take the rest down before hitting my screeching face with a blade. I’m always a bit shocked to be reminded in these rare moments that I have a cleft chin. More than this, when I look at my clean shaven face, I see my dad staring back, especially with my overgrown quarantine temple greys.
After a dousing application of astringent, I went out to shock my family with their new young, geekier looking forever housemate. As expected, I got stunned expressions from them all and relished their observations. “You look younger” “You look older” “You look WEIRD”. They touched my smooth face but the next day, not only was I rewarded with tight, painful skin and a lovely crop of face bumps, the smoothness was replaced with the feel of dollar store sandpaper. Any idea of keeping a clean face and keep the grey stubble away vanished as I longed for my soft and mostly white beard again.
So, as I continue to blog, you’ll see the old image return along with my trusty, dependable beard. I’m sorry I ever forsook it.