During my regular course of trimming my beard — an action I can only ascribe to my vanity establishing a beachhead in its never-ending war against my genetics — a non-critical trimming accident forced me to shave off the whole damn thing. Reminder to self: check that your trimmer attachment is actually, like, attached before swiping at your cheeks like a follicle Grim Reaper. I briefly considered turning the resultant mass into a goatee (verdict: too douchey) or a mustache (verdict: already visually enough of a hipster, thanks much), but both options would delay the return of my beard further than necessary. I would need a clean slate. Fortunately, said genetics are relentless and profligate. I anticipate full re-bearding by week’s end.
I have encountered several perils as a result of my unwanted shaving. Turning my head has become a hazard, as it is missing several pounds of hair — the strength required to move such a mass is now unneeded, and has very nearly resulted in several debilitating neck strains. I quit football specifically to avoid such injuries. Despite the fact that it is over 90 degrees outside, my face is frigging freezing. On the plus side, a bunch of people got up on stage and danced to a song I sung at karaoke last night. The implications this has for my previous hypothesis (that beards make a man look dignified and not at all intimidating) are … problematic. To preserve my mental health and sense of self, I have decided to attribute said dancing to a subconscious attempt to make up for the lack of beard, thereby resulting in my voice attaining a certain sweetness and purity that I can only usually pull off if someone accuses me of being off-key.
I am never off-key.
A heretofore-unforeseen problem — my current glasses were chosen in large part due to the way they complemented and molded the effect of my beard. They added a dash of sophistication to what was an otherwise rugged and slightly dissolute look. The glasses now verge on fey, and to my utter horror, actually make me look MORE like a hipster than they ever did without the beard. This realization has caused me to despair — the sight of a mirror makes me recoil as if stung. I almost didn’t wear my green Chuck Taylors this morning, that’s how bad it’s been.
I wore the red ones instead. I also have powder blue Chucks and purple Chucks. Somewhere in my closet, there is an old pair of slate-blue Chucks that I don’t wear anymore because they don’t grab nearly enough attention. I was wearing Chuck Taylors before they were cool, just to let you know. Somebody make it stop.
It’s difficult to regrow a beard without the proper mindset; beards are a commitment roughly equivalent to raising a particularly intelligent dog, or mildly stupid child. Properly trained, they add to a man’s profile; left to their own devices, they become feral and uncouth. To that end, I have employed several motivational techniques, chief among them the rewatching of HBO’s “Deadwood”, due to its array of full and lush beards. This has had the side effect of causing my swearing to increase in volume and floridness, but engaging in such a Brobdingnagian undertaking requires a full fuckin’ heart, with no time for squeamishness at the fuckin’ precipice.
I have a playoff dodgeball game tomorrow. Normally, I’d be all fired up to throw things at people, but my lack of beard has me worried. The popular perception of beard length is that it corresponds with a certain surplus of physical strength, but I’ve not yet tested this in a dodgeball environment. Will my normal barrage of well-aimed, nigh-uncatchable throws merely wilt from my beardless person? Or will I be a kind of reverse-Samson, bringing the walls of the gym down with every foam rubber missile? I feel like it’ll be somewhere in the middle, but that could be the lack of beard talking. I feel like I can take no strong stands so long as I’m in between beard and no beard. My acquaintance Dr. Aaron Perlut, head of the American Mustache Institute, describes beards as a “spousal compromise”, but his opinion is to be distrusted — he is not an impartial observer. A man committed to a style of facial hair is a man of honor — whether he be clean-shaven, mustached, or bearded. It’s the ones who can’t decided — stubblers — that you have to worry about.
The neckbeard is the beard’s nuclear runoff, a necessary but distasteful consequence of the power of hirsuteness. Neckbeards must be trimmed dutifully and ruthlessly, lest they drag the whole beard down into something less than what a gentleman would wear. I nearly forgot to do this yesterday — the result being a sudden but powerful craving for Cheetos and a World of Warcraft account. A quick wielding of my razor prevented this catastrophe, but I have to report that a dark impulse nearly caused me to extend my facial depilation northward. Clearly there is more at play here than a mere (mere?) beard. I may be in contest for my very soul.
We lost our playoff dodgeball game, but my arm strength was undiminished, so that hypothesis has been discarded. I thought my tactical acumen may have been affected, but a hellaciously smooth-cheeked win in Birthday Laser Tag on Friday night means that military genius may be present in the beardless (Patton, Caesar) as well as the hirsute (Hannibal [probably], William Tecumseh Sherman [definitely]). Regardless, a beard may provide benefits in the realm of athletic intimidation, as this video of French rugby player Sebastien Chabal possibly murdering a man demonstrates.
Tony Soprano (no beard) once said that “Remember When” is the lowest form of conversation. While I’m inclined to agree, my only solace on the one-week anniversary of my beard’s noble sacrifice is looking at pictures of myself with beards past. There’s the scraggly early-college look, the lumberjack late-college look, the more dignified short trim of years past. All have brought tears to my eyes — tears which roll nearly-unimpeded down my insufficiently-wooly cheeks. I’d like to share one such beard with you — the one I wore in my brief period as a cross-dressing Communist professional wrestler named Mother Russia, who ran for Northwestern student council president many years ago. He got 43 votes, proving that democracy is a lie.
I am so very close to getting that back. This song has been playing in my head non-stop. I am so very close.
I am standing on the prow of a Viking longship. I am the captain. We have traveled many weeks out across the North Sea, and now we are about to reach Brittania. There is much plunder here. I turn and face my men. They are all bearded — red and brown and black and yellow, ice clinging to each bristle. None of their helmets have horns. Horned helmets are a historical falsehood. Why would you want horns on your helmet? Someone hits the horns, it’ll knock your helmet off. Someone grabs hold of the horns, they can wrench your head around all they want. Horns are stupid. The Vikings would laugh at any man with horns on his helmet, or no beard.
I catch a reflection of my face in the freshly-polished noseguard of my own hornless helmet. My beard is as full and as thick and as metrosexually trimmed as contemporary Viking culture will allow. I roar at my men. They roar back. We sack the abbey of Lindisfarne. Life is good for a bearded man in any era.
Today, I trimmed my beard. I made sure the trimmer was properly attached to the buzzer. My neckbeard is properly contained.
I think everything’s going to be all right.