Well his other present was a ticket to join Price, Justin, Sarah and me in Texas for five days at a friends ranch.
I figured that if I shaved on Wednesday night and we left for Texas on Thursday that I would have nearly a week on a ranch to let my beard grow back in case I looked dreadful.
On Wednesday afternoon during the last episode of the Oprah’s show (ever!) I was inspired by her speech of action and ran upstairs and began clipping. I documented the removal, shaving each chunk and snapping a shot transitioning from redneck chin shave to raver zipper sideburns to Castro Queen handlebar and finally the end result, me.
I stared at the naked face in the mirror not quite knowing how to react. Who is this person? I haven’t shaved for about eight years. My lips look so small, where is my chin? Wow how did my nose get that big? What are those massive lines from nose to lips? Under that coat of fur I had aged and this was the first time I am seeing it. Getting old has never bothered me. I can’t wait to look like Hemingway (so I hope) although I don’t think I’ll have the salty hair to go with it unless I buy a toupee. But it is a shock to see oneself as a different person.
As the day went on I had many moments of silly surprises. I went out onto the terrace and the breeze on my face felt so different. When I ate a sandwich I didn’t have to keep wiping my mustache. I haven’t licked my lips in ages. When I was hot after gardening I could slap water on my face and feel so refreshed and clean. It dried so fast and wasn’t dripping after several minutes. Fergus licking me all over my face and not just on my hairless forehead was comforting. And the simple reflex of running my hand down the side of my face felt so slippery.
When Soumanjoy arrived home at 7:30 I was holding Fergus in front of my face when I met him. He immediately grabbed Fergus and buried his face into his stomach and took him out to the terrace. Hey! Look at me! I followed him outside and just waited for him to finally look. When he did he nearly dropped the dog. “Oh my God! Oh my God! Look at YOU! Wow. I finally am seeing you.” He gave me a big hug and stared at me. It felt funny and vulnerable. He was seeing me as me. All evening when we were talking I could tell he was examining my face with a little grin.
I kept trying to figure out whom I looked like. A soldier from the 30’s? A Greek boy from the 50’s? Michelle Barge decided, Jack Kerouac. The long face, the nose, the short hair. Not bad.
When I sent an email out of my shorn face, mother admitted she wouldn’t have recognized me on the street. Everyone says I look ten years younger. But I miss my beard. It is a part of me, of my facial structure, of who I am. I have been wearing some form of heard since 2001 when I went to London after 9/11 and saw some boys in beards and thought I would give it a shot. But for many years I have been accused of hiding behind my hats, my beard and my glasses and for the first time in many years I’ve taken that all away.
It works well on the farm in Texas but as the days go on and the ole fuzz starts forming I feel more me. Maybe one day I’ll shave it off again, but for now I enjoy being the beard in every way shape and form.