Much to the delight of my girlfriend, I have decided to grow my beard back. I of course tried to tie it all back into the coming of Fall and the natural instinct to get ready for winter adding warmth for survival. The truth of the fact is that I don’t shave because I’m lazy. Most of the time it is just too much work to lift the razor from the side of the sink, lather my face (usually with the liquid hand soap because I ran out of the generic shaving gel and I keep meaning to pick more up but didn’t) and then run that sharp edge across my cheeks, neck and jaw. You will notice that I left the word chin out. That is because on most occasion I do retain a tight short mustache and goatee. Although I did spend most of my life without facial hair, mostly because at a younger age I was unable to grow facial hair, at this point in my life I almost feel naked if it is not there.
My very first attempt to grow a mustache was way back in the summer before my Freshman year of high school. It wasn’t so much an attempt, but the first time that anything grew and I just let it go. I of course thought it was so cool, those little strands of dark hair against my nicely tanned skin after a whole summer of sun. Not yet five foot tall and all of 85 pounds soaking wet, I was strutting my stuff that summer of 1979, with my cut off shorts and “Hangin’ It” iron-on t-shirt, more than likely bought at Rumple-Shirt-Skins, our local custom made t-shirt shop. Overgrown mop of dark hair on top flowing freely with no idea about the silver and grey that would replace it in the years to come. I was cooler than Fonzie during that demolition derby when he had to leap into the fray to help Pinky Tuscadero. Leave it to my mother to snap me back to reality.
Tom, you need to start shaving. You look like a ….”
Let’s just say the name she called me was a less than flattering term used to describe someone of Mexican decent, and it rhymes with a nickname for Richard. I don’t want to give an unfair impression of my mother, because even back then she was not one to use such language or to enhance stereo types in such a manner. Long before it was considered improper to use such terms, she didn’t. Which made the point even poignant. She was right. I did look like a ….
So thus began my long love/hate relationship with the various forms of all razors. Whether I needed it or not, once or twice a week I started dragging that disposable blade across my upper lip, usually preceded by applying too much Barbasol rich and thick shaving cream, and leaving a trail in the sink of tiny hairs and blood. And of course all that extra Barbasol. A few years later, I received an electric razor for Christmas, I don’t recall the name of it, but I do remember the commercial featuring a claymation Santa riding in the head of the razor like a sled. Shortly after that, I discovered that yes indeed, you can still cut yourself with an electric razor, and the burn it left behind was somewhat reminiscent of the time I allowed my cousin David to scrap sandpaper across face. But that is a story for another time.
It really wasn’t until very recently, within the last 10 years, that I started allowing myself to grow out my facial hair. Of course like most men, I would refrain from shaving on weekends and during vacations, but Monday morning when it was time to get off to work, out came the razor and soap. Not being a particularly hairy guy, I do not grow a full beard overnight. It usually takes two to three weeks to fill in, although I don’t mind the look of a one week scruff. So it wasn’t until I happened to take a full two week vacation that I actually grew out the full beard. And I liked it. For a while I was like a kid with a new toy. Musical facial hair so to speak. Full beard, goatee, thick chops, thin chops, even that thin little line that just follows line of the jaw. It was like playing with a life size Wooly Willy stuck to my face. I was not quite as drastic as Nick Swisher before he was with the Yankees, but I did try a variety of looks. I also tried just the mustache once, but I looked too much like my father had when he had his mustache in the 70’s, so I shaved it off before I even left the bathroom. I finally settled on just two looks, full beard and the goatee/mustache combo. Every once in a while when I really goof things up trimming, I have to wipe the slate clean and I go a few days naked. But usually within a week I am back to not shaving. I guess I’m just one of those guys that needs to have facial hair.
Or I’m just lazy.