Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Courage is a Beard

I've got a thing about facial hair. It seems that big, bushy beards are coming back in. I see a lot of twenty-something guys now sporting the kind of mountain man beards that can hide whole families of birds. This is pretty radical. I grew up the 1980s, when facial hair on rock stars was totally out and mascara and lip gloss was in. Naturally, this was in reaction to the 1970s, in which huge, furry lip kittens were all the rage. 

But for me? I never had any guts. Even in the 1990s, when every other guy I knew was sporting a goatee, I never went there. Truth is, I just didn't have it in me. At the time, I said I didn't want to be just another guy with a soul patch, but it was really because I was a wimp.

But part of me -- oh, sweet rebellion -- is just aching to grow a full-on, crazy-ass Joaquin Phoenix beard. 

The closest I came was a few years ago. I sort of did it! I grew a full beard, and I'll be damned if it didn't come in red. Red! It was like looking in the mirror one day and realizing you're actually Asian. 

Then, the downfall.  

My son's piano teacher came over. Great teacher, but a very mousy individual. He was just the quietest, nicest, most soft-spoken guy in loafers you ever met. He was always hesitant, like he didn't want to disturb anything. And he had a beard. It looked just like mine. So when he saw me, he said, "You're growing a beard! Now we look just like each other!"

My heart sunk. I shaved it off that night. And I've never gone back, because here's a hard lesson for a thirty-something guy to stomach: when you think you're being a crazy rebel, more often than not, you're just a mild-mannered piano teacher.


Erica Orloff said...

OMG, this made me laugh out loud.

Mt tattoo is proof I'm still a rebel. LOL! I don't know. I still haven't conformed and life is short, dude. GROW the crazy-ass beard.

I dare you.


LurkerMonkey said...

Um, tattoo? Do tell ...

Jude Hardin said...

I used to wear an earring, but I decided I don't need it. No beard, no tattoo...

I figure I'm strange enough without having to put forth any effort.

LurkerMonkey said...

LOL, Jude! I'm sitting here spluttering at the keyboard ...

Mark Terry said...

I had a mustache for a while, a beard for a while, clean-shaven for a long time, then I grew the very close-cropped goatee and that works for me. (And my wife, who gave me no end of grief when I shaved it off once). In my case, I have a, er, round face, so the goatee gives some much needed definition.

And frankly, beards are a pain in the ass. If you can let them grow like Joaquim and it doesn't drive you crazy, go for it, but I couldn't stand being that shaggy, so when I had beards I ended up trimming and shaping them all the time, which was a bigger hassle than just shaving.

spyscribbler said...

Okay, you made me crack up out loud, Jon, but I'm still giving you a look for the way you describe a piano teacher.


But to tell the truth, I feel more and more like a frumpy old piano teacher every day. My one editor described my last essay as audacious, and I was like, "Man! I want to be audacious! I want to be that word!"

I used to color my hair red every time I got in a mood like this.

LurkerMonkey said...


I have to admit: I was chuckling as I typed, thinking, "Spy is gonna love this."

So color your hair red and I'll grow a beard and we'll be even :)

Erica Orloff said...

I tattooed my wrist last fall. I love it. :-) A Tibetan symbol to remind me breathe and slow down. Of course, ask me if I do either. ;-)