Personal grooming stories from your humble blogger.

Like many jackasses, um young men who were attending college in the early 90s, come finals time in December, I tended to eschew the razor for 10-14 days. The finals beard was an important part of college, right up there with puking in bar bathrooms and stalking attractive members of the opposite sex that you were infatuated with but afraid to talk to.

I’m not really sure what the purpose of the finals beard was. If anything, a good, hot shower and a shave might be just the thing to reenergize you when you were cranking out papers and cramming. I suppose the finals beard was a symbol to the world of your level of commitment to the educational process. “I might have blown this entire semester off, but I’m serious about the next two weeks,” was the message.

All this is preface to my admission that I just went 26 days without shaving, the longest stretch since I went 14.5 years without shaving to begin my life.* This was no finals beard, this was the real thing.

(That’s right, I was shaving as a freshman. I was 14! I was a man!)

It began out of typical laziness. I went roughly a week without shaving, mostly because I wasn’t leaving the house much, very cold weather was expected, and I don’t like to shave to begin with. Sometime around New Year’s, I took a long look in the mirror before I got to work with the razor and decided, what the hell. I cleaned up the neck and the cheeks, left the rest, and waited to see what grew.

I was both pleased and surprised by the results. Pleased in that, after a rough second week, I thought it filled in fairly well and looked decent. Surprised by the amount of gray hair in it. I have plenty of gray hair on my head, but I’m lucky in that it blends in with the rest of my hair and isn’t super noticeable. On the beard, however, it was quite apparent. I know I’m pushing 40 and all, but it did kind of bum me out to see these clear indications of my age.

I broke down and shaved everything off tonight. It was getting pretty itchy. Also I wasn’t really sure how to trim out all the wild hairs that were jutting out without setting the growth back a week or two. And we were going to an open house at the school where M. will move to next year. I wanted to present a well-groomed, clean cut image in case we got cornered by the priest. It’s bad enough I’m not Catholic; if I look like a dirty hippy they’ll have our girls under a microscope from day one.

So it was fun, I guess. Something else I’ve ever done that I can cross off my life to-do list, right up there with running a marathon and getting my own by line. The year is already off to a great start!