It won’t go down in history with the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Merlin or even the late Billy Mays, but when I blow the dust off my razor after its three-week “vacation” on Monday, my beard will have had a good run.
Not that I’d really call it a true “beard” … one of those takes at least a month to mold (three months if you grow hair like me … more on that later), but it’s the closest thing I’ve ever had to one. And I’ll admit, since having it, I’ve felt manlier and have had sudden urges to do things like chop down trees, fix trucks and grill T-bone steaks.
So, why the lifestyle change? I’m sure you’re asking this very question. And why am I ready to destroy the very thing I created and grew to love? Good question as well.
A few months ago, Herald Sports Editor Jonathan Owens and I came up with what we felt would be a funny, topical costume for Halloween. I won’t divulge what that costume is today … you’ll have to either find us in downtown Sanford tonight or look us up on Facebook or at my blog — billyliggett.wordpress.com — come Monday. But I will say that my part of the costume called for me to grow a beard — not a to-my-chest bird nest like the one in the photo illustration above (if you’re not reading this online), but a well-trimmed, close-to-my-face beard that most men my age can grow within a few days.
Well, not me. And that’s what has made this costume a challenge.
You see, I don’t grow facial hair very well. And not to get too personal with you, but there’s not much to landscape in the chest area either. Credit or blame my Native American ancestry (have you ever seen a Cherokee with chest hair and a beard?), I just don’t grow hair very well … except for, thankfully, on my head.
It’s strange, really. My little brother has a full beard. My dad has always had a mustache and at times has added a beard to his “look.”
But not only can I not grow facial hair well, I can’t grow sideburns at all. In fact, I’m sitting here today with more hair on my face than at any time in my life, and there’s still a gap of skin between where my beard begins and where my hair ends in front of my ears.
It’s a mystery … one that has completely ruined any chance I have of being an effective Elvis impersonator.
But we’re not talking about sideburns, so back to the beard. There’s one big reason I’ve never tried to grow one before — the two- to three-week period of “in between” growth where the hair on my face looks like a cross between laziness and an attempt.
In other words, I looked like a hobo.
It was during those few weeks where people would look at me and ask, “You trying to grow a beard?” … asking with a nervous laugh, afraid my answer would be “yes.”
And when I would say “yes,” they’d reply … “Oh, well … good luck with that.”
In the past, whenever I got to the point where it looked like I just hadn’t bathed for a few days, I would shave.
Growing a beard requires a commitment and a thick skin. You have to block out how ridiculous you look and what other people think of you and keep your mind on the prize — a manly beard.
Sidenote: While trying to think of a way to end that sentence just now, I looked up, jutted out my chin and stroked my “beard” while in deep thought. Ha … and there are those out there who say I’m not a deep thinker. The beard begs to differ.
Again, I’m not saying I rival Ulysses S. Grant or anything, but a few days ago, my facial hair went from being embarrassing to somewhat resembling a minor beard.
The question, “You trying to grow a beard?” suddenly became, “Hey, you’re growing a beard.”
It’s something I recommend every guy try at least once in his life. I’m fortunate to have a boss who hasn’t threatened to fire me (nor has he even questioned me about it), and I understand that not everyone has that luxury. I’m also lucky that I have a wife who doesn’t mind it — she doesn’t like it, she just doesn’t mind it — and knows that I have a goal, and that is Halloween.
All kidding aside, it does make you feel a little more masculine. And I really think that if I gave it another month, it may actually look like I tried to grow this thing right.
Alas, my little experiment won’t last very long. Come Monday, the day after Halloween, I’m getting rid of this thing. I’m travelling to Durham with the boss for company stuff on that day, and later in the week, I’ll be judging the Sanford Drag Race … and for some reason, I don’t want to have a beard for it.
Plus, I have a vacation coming up, and I don’t feel like having my daughter look back on those photos in the future and saying, “Dad had a beard? Gross.”
That’s not to say it will never happen again. Should I ever decide to camp out for a month under the stars … or should I ever decide to join a Civil War re-enactment group, the beard may come back.
Until then, it was fine while it lasted. And a little itchy … but still fun.