Clean-shaven

Adel Gabot

11:09AM

This morning in the shower, apropos of nothing, I shaved my face clean.

For the first time in what, over two decades, I shaved off my Van Dyke beard, and became clean shaven for the first time in a long time.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it.

I just thought it might be time for a slight change. Just like that fateful day a long time ago when I decided it might be good to grow a beard and have a slight change in the way I look.

A totally random, arbitrary decision. Both times. Although that first one stayed with me for over 20 years. Christ, I have good, longtime friends who have never known me not to have a beard. It’s been that long.

I call it a beard, but that’s really stretching the definition, I think, especially in the beginning.

It was, to use a word, sparse. I had an adequate mustache, but the rest of it proved wanting. I could grow a workable chin, but the sides barely grew and didn’t connect to the temples. I had to cultivate and encourage it for months before it became passable. In time I had a Van Dyke, that type of beard that grew around the mouth area—because that was the only thing I could grow.

And so it went. I had to trim it often, first every two weeks, then every week, and when it finally got growing, every couple of days. But that happened in the space of a couple of years in the beginning.

There were times I would trim it neatly and assiduously, and other times I would let it grow wild and free. But I had to keep it as neat as I could, otherwise I looked like a homeless bum.

In the later years, the beard would have its share of gray hairs, much more than my head, which had practically none. The last couple of years it would take on a salt-and-pepper look that betrayed my actual age. If I didn’t have the Van Dyke, I could pass for someone in my late thirties, instead of a ripe old 54.

So this morning, I figured, why not shave it off, and in the process look a lot younger. So I did.

And I needn’t have worried about how different I looked now. My brother and father didn’t even notice anything had changed at breakfast. Karla, the manager at Starbucks where I was at this morning, gave me her usual cheery hello and didn’t even bat an eyelash.

I thought I’d have a reverse 5 o’clock shadow for a while, because the sun-deprived skin under the beard wouldn’t have the color of the rest of my face, but apparently I looked exactly the same as before.

Hmph.

I’ll try out this new look for a week or so, and if it doesn’t pan out, well, I’ll just grow it back.


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