Wednesday 24 February 2010

Beardwatch: two weeks of whiskers

Days 1-3: These don't really count, as any beard growth during these days is both minimal and simply a result of laziness. At any given point I normally have a light dusting of grimy whiskers, which are due entirely to an ongoing lack of interest in my own personal appearance, rather than in any attempt at facial styling.
Day 3: Have the dawning realisation that my chin now makes a faint scratching noise when rubbed. As a result I spend several happy minutes sitting alone at the dining table, absent-mindedly stroking my nascent whiskers with the back of a teaspoon in order to listen to the variations in whispering tone the different parts of my face now produce. This experiment is rudely interrupted by The Wife, who tartly requests that I make sure I put the teaspoon straight in the dishwasher when I have finished.
I decide I will let the whiskers grow for bit, and see what happens. At this point, I am officially 'growing a beard' and Beardwatch 2010 has formally commenced.
Day 4: My whiskers are thickening in a really strange pattern. From a distance, it looks as if my face has been cupped lovingly in the hands of a chimney sweep who has some missing fingers.
Day 5: Eldest daughter loudly complains that my chin is prickly when I kiss her goodnight. As a result, Youngest hides her face under the bed covers and will not let me kiss her. Instead, she kisses her hand then wipes it on my face, a process which is actually quite unpleasant and which leaves a lengthy, unwanted runner of her dribble all down the front of my T-Shirt
Day 6: Stubble length is now roughly equivalent to that of 'Faith'-era George Michael. Secretly amuse myself by recreating the album cover in question in the mirror. Idly wonder again, as I did back in the late eighties, why he chose to be photographed sniffing his own armpit for the cover of his debut solo album. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but I wonder if he has ever regretted it since. Probably not, I would guess - he'll have had other things on his mind.
Children once again refuse to let me kiss them. I retaliate by rubbing my chin on the top of their heads while they cower under the bedclothes.
Day 7: Whisker length, is now, I feel optimum. Wife remarks that she quite likes my appearance. This in itself is worthy of recording.
Day 8: My mother visits. She does a double-take when she sees my face.
"Do you like it?" I ask.
"You look like your Dad" she replies.
This seems somewhat evasive, and very open to interpretation, but two things occur to me as a result - firstly, that my father has not had a beard in over 30 years (so The Pedant Within wants to argue strongly that I must in fact look less like my Dad than usual...) and secondly that 30 years is about the length of time that my parents have been divorced, though I don't believe these two facts are related. Certainly, his beard growth was not cited in the divorce papers anywhere, at least to my knowledge.
I then recall a picture I once saw of my father when he was nineteen, with a beard that was significantly more bushy and luxuriant than anything I can grow now, at exactly twice that age. I feel the faint twinges of beard-envy as a result.
Day 9: I notice that under the artificial lighting of the bathroom, my moustache and chin whiskers seem to be quite different colours. The lower half of my face looks dirty and swarthy, while the growth on my upper lip is the same strawberry-blonde of my Youngest daughter's hair. The mix-and-match effect is striking, but I must confess not entirely pleasant - at certain angles it kind of looks like I am wearing a badly-made false moustache.
Day 10: Itches a bit.
Day 11: Catch site of myself in the mirror while wearing a brown V-neck top and decide that I look quite like a Jedi Knight, which pleases me immensely. I stand there in the hall making lightsaber noises and calling my reflection 'Young Padawan'. I then recall the time my sister caught me piloting an imaginary Speeder Bike around the forest moon of Endor by clinging onto the bathroom sink taps and lurching from side to side, so decide to go to work before anyone sees me.
Day 12: Itches quite a lot now, and quite a lot of the time.
Day 13: Eldest gazes up at my face, studying me closely. I wait patiently. After a short while, she announces that she has noticed that (a) some of my whiskers are white, "like an old man" and that (b) my face "looks ridiculous".
I inform her that when she is old enough to get pocket money, I will be withholding some of it.
Day 14: I am gazing vacantly at my monitor at work, when the screensaver kicks in, and the screen goes black. In the darkened surface I catch sight of my reflection and suddenly remember why I stopped growing a beard last time: after about two weeks, I start to look eerily like Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
I shave the whole lot off within fifteen minutes of getting home that evening. My children still refuse to kiss me goodnight because they now think it's funnier to hide, though Eldest says it is nice to see my my chins (yes, plural) again...


Max Halliwell said...

was the hair on your face the same as your head, nice tight curls?

Misterimpatient said...

As the owner of a beard myself, my experience is somewhat the reverse of yours. Recently, I had entered my lazy phase and allowed my beard to grow, untrimmed, for about 6 weeks. As it's mostly white, my 17 year old daughter, who has only ever known me in a beard and threatens to leave home in the company of a traveling magazine sales troupe if I ever shave it off, got to calling me Santa. Affectionately and with a smile.

Sadly, it got to be too much for me, this long beard. It's now a neat and trim 3/8 inch long and once again, I look like a bald and bearded Pierce Brosnan.

My daughter still lives at home. Idle threats.

Anonymous said...

So did you experience an irrisistable urge to write code while you had the whiskers?


PDC said...

@Max: no, actually it was insipid and wispy, more like your own hair then mine...

@Misterimpatient: Pierce Brosnan? Wow, you have changed since I last saw you...

@MartinB: Oh lord, no. I know my place...