After I posted my self-portrait with my homeless man beard, it created quite the controversy. Some people thought it rocked and invited me to exclusive parties that I never knew existed. Thank you. I never knew that most soirees had a quota of bearded weirdoes to fill. Some people were disgusted and immediately hurled on their keyboards and sent me the bill. I’ve negotiated a deal with Dell and you should be receiving them shortly. Others didn’t give a crap. I can respect that. Most just pointed and laughed. But it was hard to distinguish how that was different than before I grew the beard. I could tell that my bosses were growing concerned since sending Captain Lou Albano out to meet clients didn’t exactly match their image of the firm, but they were afraid to say anything. That could be my favorite part.
I was pretty proud of the damn thing, so I did what any manly, hairy-faced guy would do and entered a beard contest. However, that’s obviously nothing one can do half-assed. It’s not like a wet t-shirt contest where you have a couple too many lemondrop shots and end up nipping out in full color on your ex-best friend’s myspace page. I studied all the beards that won previous contests, compiled a spreadsheet, sized up my local competition, groomed it like nothing I’ve ever groomed before, sprayed it with flaxseed oil, drank a shot of Pantene Pro-Vitamin Shampoo every morning, slept with it tucked carefully between the hardcover pages of Atlas Shrugged, and whispered motivational sayings to it when I thought nobody was looking.
Pretty soon the big day arrived. I took out my surfboard wax and put a fine sheen to it. I had plenty of wax since I don’t have a surfboard but I like to be prepared. Like, what if I get a surfboard for my birthday and everyone wants to go surfing that day, but I don’t have any wax and it’s Easter Sunday and the surf shop is closed? But I digress. I shaped it to perfection, put on my lucky boxer shorts and other assorted men’s furnishings and went to work. The competition wasn’t at the office but I couldn’t get the day off to properly prepare so I had to drag my ass in for a few hours. That shook my confidence a bit, but the show must go on. After work I managed to get to the arena early to relax, shoot some pool, and rub my beard on admiring cocktail waitresses. They swooned and my confidence was aroused. At least that’s what I think it was.
Then he walked in. I had heard of this bearded great and his name was on the top of my spreadsheet as the one to beat. We both breezed through the early rounds of the competition, easily dismissing opponents that sported everything from laughingly landscaped jawlines to the peach fuzz of misguided, yet eternally hopeful pretenders. The final round arrived and we faced off – literally. A hush fell over the crowd as they realized the history they were witnessing. After an intense pose-off we both stumbled wearily to our corners and waited for the judge’s decision.
I had a feeling that I had been beaten, and the final decision confirmed it. I had been defeated. No, I had gotten my ass kicked. I sat dejectedly in the corner with my O’Doul’s while the cocktail waitresses flocked to be rubbed with his beard. Mrs. F’er even got in on the action. I knew it was over and tried to remember where I had stored my razor 4 months earlier. Then my nemesis came over and shook my hand. It was as if he could tell what I was thinking and said, “You growed it, so you own it.” Those words of encouragement inspired me to believe that I should keep it. But I realized that I could never make the commitment necessary to take the beard to the next level like he had done.
I did keep the beard for my drive to Chicago. I would let it flail in the wind one last time as I drove the interstates to our new home. It was just like BJ and the Bear, except it was a U-Haul instead of a big rig and Mrs. F’er is way cuter than that monkey. When we arrived at Mom’s house to drop off our stuff, the neighborhood watch folks notified local authorities. After I convinced them that the truck was not full of crystal meth and I was not stealing my mother’s collection of beanie babies, I asked for a little help unloading but they apparently had other hippies to provoke. Mom took to calling me Charles Manson even though I repeatedly told her I preferred Jim Morrison. So I kept it couple extra days just to torment her while reminding her that I could have opted for a tattoo of a pole dancer down the side of my neck. And then it was time to go apartment hunting. I decided that I looked like one of those crazed cult leaders that might convince all the other tenants to meet me in the community rec room and drink some Kool-Aid so that we could go meet our supreme leader Andy Kaufman. Although I believe crazed cult leaders are protected under the Fair Housing Act, I didn’t want to take any chances so I donned the scissors and began hacking away. Several hours later, the whiskers had filled the sink and I looked like I was twelve years old again. Suddenly I realized how the guys in Metallica must have felt after they cut off their hair and sold out, man.
Sorry it took so long to confess, but I didn’t want to mislead you if you’re looking for me at the next Lovehammers or Captain & Tennille show. Stop by and say hello - I’ll be the guy without the beard.
January 28, 2006 - June 2, 2006