When This Is, That Is

Exploring the world of conditionality

Graybeard No More

The last time I shaved off my beard was about 17 years ago, while my daughter was away for the summer visiting her grandparents. Kathryn was around five years old. When I picked her and her mother up at the airport, Kathryn wouldn’t speak to me. She hid behind her mother, staring at me doubtfully, not sure I could be trusted. On the drive home I could see her in my mirror, glowering at me. 

Before she’d left, we’d talked about putting some shelving in her closet, a job I’d completed while she was away. Showing her what I’d done seemed to convince her I really was the same person who took her to the airport a month earlier. She relaxed her guard and began chattering away. It’s a good story, one that’s become part of the family repertoire, brought out around the dinner table at various gatherings.

I don’t recall exactly when I let my beard grow for the first time, but the mustache began the day after I graduated from high school. The beard has come and gone in many configurations over the years. Once, while still living at home, I walked into the kitchen after removing the chin part of my beard. My mother looked at me and said, “There’s something different, but I can’t tell what it is.” The mustache has come off only once—and that only for the time it took to grow back. 

The purpose of the beard—it’s primary function—is not so much to support a style or make a statement (well, a long time ago it was) but to eliminate the need for shaving. It’s an activity that takes time in the morning and is irritating to the skin. It’s easier just to let alone, trimming it as necessary. Eventually, though, it becomes a fixture, a part of one’s identity. Taking it off this time required a lot of deliberation. Over the past several years I’d been keeping it short clipping it once a week. But over the past few months I’d use the razor around the edges, whittling it down to get used to the idea. Then one day off came the sides. After two or three weeks, off came the chin part. That’s the worst part—very difficult to shave closely without irritation.

I’ve always like the term “graybeard” as a reference to an old man. It’s appropriate and respectful. So I didn’t shave it off to mask my aging. There are plenty of other signs of that. I owe it all to whimsy and caprice. And I’m going to stick with it—for a while, anyway. 

Kathryn is still uncertain.

4 Responses to Graybeard No More

  1. Sabio, yes, I’m sure we have personalty differences. For example, I don’t feel compelled to seek change for it’s own sake. I’m not particularly adventurous nor inclined to risk-taking. On the other hand, I’ve made a lot of changes here and there throughout my life willingly and intentionally. And a willingness to experiment and try new things is definitely part of who I am. Regarding facial hair, though, I’ve had many different configurations over the years—as may be evident in the photo montage in my banner. But it’s true enough, I’ve had a beard—long or short—more often than not.

    TWF,>/b> having been divorced myself (twice!) I know how it is to want to make changes small and large to help differentiate myself from my past.

    The identity/personality aspect has broader implications and opens up chambers ready for exploration.

  2. TWF says:

    It definitely does become a part of your personality. I haven’t experimented a whole lot, but I picked up my current style after separating from my ex. She never like facial hair. Now it’s sort of become a symbol of the new me after the divorce.

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    Ooops, forgot to follow. Thanx

  4. Sabio Lantz says:

    Wow, I wonder if that reveals a personality difference. I change my facial hair almost every 4 months or so. I love change. I get bored with my own face all the time. I also play with hair cuts. Heck, if I could change personalities every now and again just to ride in a different mind, I’d do that too.

    Suggestion: try a soul patch or a foo-manchu (sp?) sometime. Play a little more. You have nothing too loose except maybe some flirty eyes from 70-year-olds.

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