Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Where is My Beard?

In compliance with his high school dress code, my son has now reached the stage where he has to shave. This was hilarious at first largely because frankly he is far from hirsute and I could not identify the few strands which were gleefully washed goodbye down the bathroom basin. Now however it is somewhat annoying since he has to engage in this seemingly senseless activity repeatedly which he doesn't particularly enjoy and which comes with quite a bit more than skin irritation. Apparently the schools hold the view that it is good preparation for boys to enter the corporate world but it is not without its vexation.

Boys you see identify with their fathers so if dad has a goatee, son wants one too. The need to shave everyday when dad doesn't adds to the sense of pointlessness. Luckily to achieve the goatee requires some shaving or else there would be no one to consult about the complexities of this morning ritual. It seems the water must be quite hot, the shave must be wet, the razor sharp, the muscles tensed, the cheeks puffed, the mouth closed and the beard must be very soft. There are discussions about shaving with or against the grain, using shaving cream or foam and of course whether an electric shave is as effective as the classic gentleman's razor shave. Then there is the necessary after shave balm to moisturize, soothe and prevent rashes and burn. Now really, which teenager needs this headache? Can't beards simply be trimmed neatly if they start to get out of hand? Or is that a whole other story with different rules and implements?

As I have come to realize there are very few surprises in the blogosphere and so of course I discovered a blog devoted to celebrating the beard with beard success stories and photos to boot. The bearded community is alive and well and proud too. In fact one gets the distinct feeling that men feel strongly about their beards. It points to their individuality, makes them look scholarly, mature or distinguished and is a cogent marker of sheer maleness. Yet some men remain clean shaven simply because they claim some women prefer a smooth surface. It is this factor which may nudge that youngster (with the emerging stubble) to action each morning. Why not, if it is one more ritual in deference to women. Now school rules, that is a different matter. Just kidding.




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