Diary of a Face
I’m beginning to think that my beard and I are going to have to part ways — not just for now, but for good.
I have, in recent years, wanted to grow a big-ass, menacing beard. (This has less to do with any hipster tendencies on my part than with the fact that I am a lazy slob who has reached a place both socially and physically where I no longer give much of a shit what I look like.) My touchstones were Grizzly Adams, Osama bin-Laden, and Brian Blessed, but once I really started to go for it, I decided to focus on one particular individual beard as my inspiration: the one that once adorned the face of Canned Heat front man Bob Hite. A formless, shapeless, menacing Cthulhoid mass growing out of a human chin: that’s what I wanted. It announced his presence to the world. It signaled his coming. It delivered his philosophy, like Nietzsche’s mustache, a summary of thought in the form of human hair. Hite was a big fat guy with a big fat beard who took no big fat shit from anyone, and I thought, if I accomplish nothing else in my life, I can at least achieve such a beard.
Here’s the problem, though: my hair and I have what one might describe as a laissez-faire relationship. I let it do what it wants, and it lets me do what I want. Usually, this works out fine for both of us; if I wanted to maintain my facial hair in any meaningful way, I would have a high-performance haircut like a normal human being. The whole point of having a beard is so I can live like a Borneo wild man. The problem with the live-and-let-live attitude, though, is the same with hair as it is with people: eventually, one party is going to do something the other party doesn’t like, and, since neither party is willing to claim moral authority, an impasse is reached. The impasse, in this case, involves my beard growing out — by which I mean wide, broad, and colored an uninspiring shade of grayish white — about an inch, and then just, well, stopping. It just hunkers down on my chin, and shrugs its hairy shoulders. “If anything is going to happen from here on out,” it seems to say, “you better have some ideas, because I’ve gone as far as I’m gonna go with this project.” Like many beards of my generation, it lacks direction in life.
The thing is, if one of us doesn’t break, nothing is going to change. I don’t know what to do with the beard, and the beard doesn’t know what to do with itself. Whatever gene it is that allows a human male to transform into a facial caveman, I do not possess it. I try to be patient and wait it out, but it just sits there, daring me to take action. And since I do not look forward to carrying around the tonsorial equivalent of an inverted mushroom on the bottom of my face for the next however many years I’m going to live, I have a feeling I’m just going to do what happens at the end of every stalemate: break out the weapons and order a massacre. Sic semper barbus.