In late October, I started growing a beard. I don’t really know why. I’ve had a couple attempts before. But I’m an extremely itchy guy. This is probably some kind of neurotic — if not psychotic — tick. At about the two-week mark, my face turns into a minefield of itches and pokes. When I lay down on my pillow at night, it feels like a million little pins are piercing my face. That’s when I usually give up and shave it off.
When I shave it, I feel like I’ve failed. Like all of that time spent itching away at it, letting it grow, nurturing it, keeping it moisturized, etc., was wasted. Another disappointment in beard growth.
My dad had a beard from the day I was born until the day he died. I never saw his cheeks or his chin. For the longest time, I wondered why. And then I remembered a story he once told me.
He was a young man — I think in his early twenties — and he was working at a service station. Late one evening, after most everyone had gone home, he was changing the tire of a big truck. He had the tire iron pulled back and was trying to pry the tire off when he slipped. His hand let go of the iron and the bar smashed into his jaw, shattering it. He lay unconscious until a his co-worker found him laying there, teeth strewn across the concrete floor.
That was it. He was hiding the gigantic scar from that accident.
Late last month, I decided to try it again. Partly in homage to my dad. Partly just because I wanted to prove to myself I could follow through with it. I was pumped. I was going to make it through the itchy phase and coast from there. Hell, I might even grow a yeard.
Week two to week four were the worst. I put conditioner on it to soften it. My friend even bought me oil to moisten it with. These things helped, and I was mostly fine during the day. It was the night time itching that killed me.
And then I realized… Shit. It’s Movember/No-Shave November. And here I am. Going along with it, unintentionally.
I’ve never been a big fan of these movements. I get it, and it’s great for some people, but not for me. I’ve never been the type to slap one of those ribbons on my car. I don’t donate to any famous charities. And I don’t fit well in crowds. I’m a curmudgeon. That’s just how it is. When I see the masses wearing their pink… everythings… I run the other direction.
But here I was. In the middle of the no-shaving hysteria not shaving. Ugh…
Add to that the fact that I hate having food on my face. With a beard, food finds your face. It seems to act as a magnet, pulling food off of other people’s plates in the room and caking your beard with it. I found myself always wiping. And never getting it all off.
Then there’s the wife thing. She loved the way it looked, but hated getting pricked by it (get your mind out of the gutter RIGHT THERE, buddy). I like kissing my wife. And while I had my beard, all I got was the turned cheek.
I always caught myself playing with it. There I’d be, in public, usually by myself, tonguing my beard hairs that hung over the edge of my mouth. People must have thought I was mad. It probably looked like I was performing cunnilingus to the air. Total creeper.
Also, I live in Reno. Every guy in Reno has a beard. Again — herd mentality, makes me itchy.
So I did it. I murdered the beard. I can feel my face again. And I feel free.