I don’t know why, but I decided it had to go. Maybe I was tired of constantly having to trim it, maybe it was the copious grey that insisted on showing in it, maybe it was just boredom, but around 7:55 AM this morning, I condemned my beard to death. In a solemn procession, I walked it to the bathroom, said a few words pondering the fragility of life, and raised the trimmer. Then I stood there like an idiot for a minute, staring into the mirror. I actually managed to get the blade up to my face three times, and turn the trimmer on twice. But two times I turned it off, and three times I lowered my arm. I couldn’t do it. The governor had called with the reprieve. Sentence commuted to life on my face.
I’ve had facial hair of one kind or another for more than ten years now, be it a goatee or the full-on beard. At first I did it because I could, then because I liked it, then because I was just used to it. I did shave it all off once, and elicited such a shriek of dismay from Hannah — who’d never seen me without it — that I grew it back just to calm her psyche. I think it does good things for my jaw line, and I dig the whole Obi-Wan Kenobi vibe it helps me give off, but it’s not like I’m emotionally attached to it. Or maybe I am, given my reaction this morning.
I don’t think I’m trying to hide anything. Although it’s been so long since I’ve seen my upper lip and chin, I could have three sixes hidden under there that’ll coat the world in hellfire if I reveal them. It could be a bit of vanity, worrying that I’ll look goofy, or worse, that I’ll have some crazy tan line from half my face being hidden from the sun for so long. Or maybe I’m subconsciously trying to play the aging hippie, with the beard and the long hair and the John Lennon glasses, only without all the pot and Grateful Dead music.
Or maybe it’s just clinging to the old, afraid of change, hanging on to something simply because it’s been around a while. But that’s too depressing to contemplate, so I’ll stick with the hippie thing.
So the mood came and went, and all that happened was a good trimming and some judicious shaving around the outskirts. The beard lives on. For now. Until another little drama plays out in front of the mirror, and hundreds of tiny hairs will suddenly cry out in terror, and then be suddenly silenced. That’ll be the plan, anyway. We’ll see if I can ever carry it out.