I was surprised there was red hair in my beard.
It was a good feeling. I still see myself as a redhead. You know how it is. Red. I liked that childhood nickname.
A month later, there was as much white in my beard as red. I didn’t want to look like Santa Claus or Kenny Rogers. Darn. Old Man Age always finds you.
For the first time ever, this winter, I grew a beard. At least it was a beard to me. Some days, I felt tough, cool like a hockey player. Other days, I felt more like I had connect-the-dot, Richie-Cunningham fuzz on my face.
Good beard days; bad beard days.
So goes life, right?
I started growing my first beard when I was in the hospital during December. I had a lot going on, but nothing really. Shaving wasn’t high on my priority list. I didn’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror. My wife, Colleen, said she liked the look. That was good enough for me.
I had never tried to grow a beard before. Always chickened out. A few days of grubby whiskers. I figured it would grow in patches here and there.
Beards and facial hair are rampant. Guys of all age groups have facial hair nowadays. College. High school. Millennials. Baby boomers. Full beards. Soul patches. Look around. It seems like more guys have facial hair than don’t have it. Send your son to college. Bet he comes home with whiskers.
Why do guys grow beards?
Because we can, I guess.
And you know a bad beard when you see one.
Growing my beard, or whatever you want to call it, was painless. All I had to do was not shave. There were many days when I didn’t notice hairs on my face. It was nice not to shave every morning. There were many other days when all I could think about was the hairs on my face. They itched. Was it unkept? I rubbed and twirled my whiskers non-stop.
For the record, I didn’t feel any smarter or dumber with a beard. Same old C-Student, whiskers or not. Music sounded the same, too. I wasn’t any cooler with whiskers.
I received comments from friends and co-workers. Some just looked at me oddly. Something different about Mackin? Nowadays, you have to watch what you say to others. We’re a very sensitive world.
After it grew for a month, I bought some whisker oil and whisker wax. I’m not sure what difference wax and oil made besides making my whiskers a little shinier and smell better. But I had never bought beard wax or oil before. It was the novelty.
I realized so many guys have face hair nowadays. College. High school. White collar. Blue collar. Millennials. Baby boomers. Guys in their mid-50s like me still trying to see if they can grow one, and if they can, is it any color but white?
My good friends had some fun with my beard, or what I called a beard.
“Hey, ZZ Top …”
“Look. Ralph Malph with whiskers …”
Think of any old high school teacher with a beard? I was him.
“Hey, Mr. Duck Dynasty … Bruce Sutter … Abe “Red” Lincoln …”
A lot of leprechaun comparisons.
It was fun for awhile. I kept the whiskers on my face until a few weeks ago. It was an unseasonably warm day. I knew there was no way I was going to keep the beard in warm weather. Plus, we had a wedding coming up. I did not want to resemble the Unabomber in a suit.
Biggest reason I shaved? I started the beard while I was in the hospital. The beard and hospital were attached, in my mind. It was time to separate. Move on. Shave, son.
I learned growing a beard was more fun than grooming a beard.
After I shaved, I was surprised at the number of people who noticed. I was also surprised at the number of people who didn’t remember I had a beard at all.
I will grow a beard again someday. Maybe next winter. Because I can. And to see if see if there’s any red left in it.
Probably during hockey season.
Beards are hockey cool.