Have you ever noticed the obligatory five or six young men standing behind every Grand Champion steer or heifer at a major livestock show who were responsible for grooming the animal? While every hair is in place on the bovine the talented fellas responsible look like they just spent six months as roustabouts in northern Alaska without access to running water or shaving utensils. They have so much facial hair one wonders if they go out in public does PETA throw paint on them thinking they’re wearing wool?
Beards and mustaches are a generational thing. If you look at pictures of our Presidents you’ll see that only one or two of our Presidents up until Abe Lincoln had facial hair. Then Abe started a trend of nine Presidents who wore some kind of facial hair. (In Abe’s case he had a good reason, he was uglier than a mud fence.) Then for no discernible reason, Presidents became clean shaven again and the last President who had any kind of facial hair was William Taft who was our 27th President.
While my generation was famous for growing our hair long in almost every instance we budding baby boomers were clean shaven. I had eight uncles and as I recall there wasn’t a beard in the bunch, although I did have an aunt with a mustache. Fast forward to today and any self-respecting man has some sort of beard, mustache, fu man chu, soul patch, flavor saver or soup strainer. Even muttonchops have made a comeback. And therein lies my problem. Except for those days spent in a coma, from the time I started shaving at 16 until I turned 65 I shaved nearly every day of my life. And I hated every day of it!
I encountered many problems being a serial shaver. First, I’m nearly blind and not being able to see my face in the foggy mirror meant one sideburn was always an inch or two higher then the other and a chunk would be missing from my nose, ear and/or both. I was also a chronic bleeder which meant I always had several tiny pieces of toilet paper with red dots in the middle all over my face when I went out in public. Fast forward to today when everyone has facial hair and being clean shaven means I stick out worse than the wart on Abe Lincoln’s face.
Then there’s the costs associated with shaving. Men and women don’t just shave these days with a razor and a blade, oh no, they have to use a “shaving system” so Proctor and Gamble and Gillette can charge you $25 for a package of blades. Thank goodness dollar stores came along where I can buy a whole bag of throwaway razors for a buck. I don’t care if they do take huge chunks out of my cheeks, at least I’m not having to dip into our retirement savings to purchase shaving equipment. If I added up all the time and money I’ve wasted on razor blades over the years I’d probably own a big ranch and be a billionaire by now. And if my face had been covered in facial hair maybe it wouldn’t now be covered in skin cancer. I can also see how a full beard might have come in handy when I had to feed our cows in freezing weather.
Now that I’m a hermit and have stopped going out in public I’ve started skipping the daily shave. Then other problems started rearing their ugly head. After about three days I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin and after a week my face has the texture of 80 grit sandpaper and I could use it to sand furniture. And in trying to cut through the old-growth, prickly underbrush I always break two or three cheapie dollar store razors so now I wonder just how much money I really am saving.
I’ve almost resorted to desperate measures. The fella who cuts my hair at the Curl Up and Dye Barber Salon tells me that priests in ancient Egypt dealt with the shaving problem by plucking every hair from their bodies. I swear, I hate shaving so much it’s almost enough to make me join the priesthood.