Face Time

Ch-ch-ch-chaaaanges

Instead of watching tonight’s debate, I shaved off my beard.

Most of you who have been putting up with me for a long time know about these “Face Vacations”, but everyone else probably thinks I do it to avoid frightening small children.

It is not so!  If it were, October would be a terrible time for me to shave!  But to understand the origins of the Face Vacaction, we must travel back in time, to… the boring part of my Origin Story!

~~~[1]

As a young man, I was cursed with (dun dun dunnnnnnnn) DANDRUFF.  In retrospect, I think I got off lucky, since other young men had to contend with volcanic acne, wildly cracking voices, mangy facial hair, or occasionally a third leg growing out the back of their necks.  However, shampoo commercials of the time made it clear that it was morally wrong, and possibly a felony, to have dandruff.  (Some of the more extreme Western philosophies actually contend that dandruff is grounds for mercy killing.)

I learned of ways to cope with this problem, of course: wearing bright colors and loud patterned clothing, cutting my hair short, disavowing family and friends and living in a cave.  Fortunately, time, frequent washing, and the liberal application of medicated shampoos cleared up the problem, before the Federal Bureau of Dandruff Investigation was able to find me and bring charges.  Sure, some of the stronger brews may have contributed in my current ailments of frequent headaches and a painfully sensitive scalp, but at least those aren’t morally wrong.

~~~[2]

Fast forward to the present day, when I can excercise the most awesome of (predominantly) male superpowers: growing a beard!  Also, my beard comes in very red, which is awesome.[3]

I love my beard.  It serves several important purposes:

  1. It gives the illusion that I have a jawline.
  2. It masks the more ridiculous features of my face.
  3. It counterbalances my high-pitched voice when others guess my age.
  4. It makes me look like the dude on my driver’s license.
  5. It scares small children.

However, I have sensitive skin, and I can never get my beard completely dry after washing my face.[4]  After some months of awesome beardedness, my chin will get itchy and red, and I will get a rash.  And, then… BEARDRUFF.  Which is like dandruff.  But from a beard, and therefore even more reprehensible.

Once a year or so, then, I give my face a vacation, so that it can heal, and I can rejoin society.  Only, this time, it’s been much longer than a year.  You know how aftershave can sting sometimes, if you shave after a long hiatus?  Two years is a long hiatus.  And my gigantic nose almost wasn’t a problem, since I almost cut it off while shaving for the first time in memory. (I use a razor with six blades and a battery-powered motor.  SURELY they could afford to put training wheels or something on it.)

Pain aside, it made me sad to shave off my beard.  I really like that beard, and I think I look like me when I have it cut just so.  It’s my favorite fashion, and I hate to be without it.  I’m trying not to get too attached to it.  I’ll think of it as a mighty Phoenix, perched proudly (on my face) until it falls in a cloud of flame (I shave it off)… and later it is reborn (grows back) magnificently from its ashes (my… stubble?) and delivers a magical weapon (surely not a razor…) in the nick of time to a boy wizard (what) who is fighting a monstrous lizard (I’m seriously lost here).

No, while I stay clean-shaven for a week or two, I’m trying to look on the bright side.  Obviously, there are some advantages to not having a beard.  For instance, I can eat barbecue ribs without using a hotel bottle of shampoo in the restaurant’s bathroom afterwards.  Also, I hear that gigantic, hilarious eyebrows are “in” this year.

Perhaps most importantly, I’ll have some time away from my beard.  After I scare myself half to death in the mirror every morning, I can reflect on how my beard is my biggest temptation to vanity.  Of all of my fashion and grooming choices, it really is the most important to me.  I can really like the way I look in a beard, and I can really enjoy the style of my beard.  But, I shouldn’t be sad when I cut it off.

After all, for now I’ll be able to say for sure that a man is not defined by his beard.

He is totally defined by his hat.

  1. This is an emoticon for “hazy flashback fade”, which I bought from a guy who was hanging out in the dried fish aisle at the Korean grocery store across the street.  He told me that it might not be recognizable to Western audiences yet, because they hadn’t released it over here.  I was skeptical at first, but then he showed it to me on his cell phone, which was pretty advanced.  (He claimed it was a new model of Android phone, and by way of evidence, folded it in such a way that it became a small robot, which spoke without using contractions.)  He said it was a steal at 30 “Zenny” (which is apparently a minority Japanese currency?), but because of the weak dollar, the exchange rate put it at about $237.00.  He drove a hard bargain, but I think I got the upper hand, because I talked him down all the way to $150.00!

    Anyway, I figured you guys may not have seen it yet, so I thought I’d better explain!  Oh, and if you want to use it, too, the guy said he could probably arrange bulk rates.

    Also, that store has Pocky.  Rad. []

  2. I guess I’m going to have to pay again.  Sure, $300.00 may seem like a lot.  But we have just traveled in time.  Twice.  Think about it. []
  3. Captain James Tiberius Kirk, when he grows a beard, has one that grows in brick red.  He confided this to me in a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in which he also congratulated me for using “three dimensional thinking” during a military manouever in a sensor-inhibiting environment.

    I have not read this book since I was 8 or 10 years old, probably.  Maybe 12?  I don’t think I was even clear on what a Klingon was at that time, but mark my words, I already knew with certainty that space and the inhabitants thereof were the pinnacle of cool.

    I remember all of this stuff with crystal clarity.

    If you think this is way too nerdy, then I suggest you praise God every night in your bedtime prayers that science has not yet discovered the secret to reading minds, because I swear, this does not scratch the surface of what lies dormant in my pulsating cerebrum.  The deep backstory underpinning the “LEGO men from space” / “Hall of Heroes” / “Tribe of My Little Ponies and Miniature Barbie Doll” playtime that my little sister and I shared might break you.  (I think… the LEGO men were the uncles of one of the Ponies?  It’s complicated.) []

  4. I’m pretty sure blow-drying my face would introduce complications. []

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