In Memory of My First Beard
Two days ago, I lost my firstborn beard.
All right, so I didn’t really “lose” my beard. I shaved it off using a beard trimmer, too many disposable razors and a despicable amount of shower water. Also, a shaving gel infused with something called “Australian quandong fruit,” but I digress.
Point is, I’m never getting my first beard back. So, to anyone pruning their first beard this fall: heed this tale as a warning…
It starts, as these things do, with my father. I’ve never even seen a picture of him without a fine, Selleck-worthy mustache. But my own dalliances with facial hair were always fleeting. In high school, I experimented with chin straps, goatees and Joe Dirt–size sideburns. (Yep.) But a beard? I could never get past the itchiness phase.
Then, this past April, it happened. Someone said in passing, “Nice beard you’ve got going.” I thanked them. But I was in denial—this was but the end of a longer-than-usual shaving cycle, I thought.
A few more days passed, and the beard blossomed. In private, I began running my fingers through its tendrils. It felt… dense. And soft. And far less aggravating between my cheeks and a pillow. At which point, it hit me: I was no longer a man, but a man with a beard.
During the honeymoon phase that followed, everyone from my girlfriend to my roommate to obscure Facebook acquaintances mentioned how they “liked the new beard.”
That quote ruined everything.
Did they expect this to be a permanent fixture? Was this to say they didn’t appreciate my previous beardlessness? I began to fantasize about returning to a smooth, clean-shaven face. “Oh, I forgot how much I like your jawline,” they’d say.
And so, on that fateful evening, I took my beard behind the shower curtain and put it to rest.
I felt liberated. I’d forgotten what my hairless face looked like. It felt smooth and fresh and naked. And a little painful from so much razoring. But when I re-revealed my face to the world, the only unanimous thought was, “Why’d you do it?”
I ask myself the same question. Why would a man forsake his own gloriously full beard at the height of its prominence—not to mention mere weeks before the kickoff of autumnal bearding season? I don’t know the answer to this. But I take solace in the idea that it’s better to have grown a beard and shaved it, than to have never been able to grow one at all.
Plus, it’ll come crawling back in three weeks, tops.
- — Jason Wire