Hair’s to You
Yesterday’s post featured some discussion about the differences between the genders, and that’s always fun to do, especially when you are outnumbered ten to one. Fortunately, we are not drawing battle lines this morning, so the ratio is a moot point, and I needn’t worry significantly that the eggshells I am treading on, will do anything other than crumble harmlessly beneath my clodhoppers.
I currently sport a mustache, a resident caterpillar, which has resided on my upper lip, since the winter of 1971. I’m not proud-after all, it’s one of those “accomplishments,” which actually requires that you suspend operations, in order to achieve success. By not shaving, I am able to effect change. It makes me contemplate other possible avenues to pursue. For example, by not going to work, can I produce similar tangible results?
The answer is yes, of course, only those results are more immediate, and pressing, such as the gnawing hunger when it comes to dinner, and there is no food in the house. An empty stomach may seem intangible, because of lack of substance, but do not underestimate the presence of discomfort.
Viewing facial hair from the perspective of gender differences, is interesting, if somewhat limited as to depth of examination. Guys want it; gals do not. The difference is in the amount of effort required to achieve the respective goals. I do nothing, and people can’t help noticing the results. Note that I did not say, people admire the results.
Gals who have to deal with this issue may spend much time on it, just to be able to tread water. It doesn’t come up in the conversation much, because it’s one of those unmentionable topics, that really has no socially redeeming factors. It is clearly a case of not doing something (growing hair) being more difficult than doing it.
I, on the other hand, have spent a lifetime, allowing my facial hair to create an image, that broadcasts vast unlimited amounts of information about me, before I ever open my mouth. In the late sixties, trying to fit in with the political climate, I was forever letting my sideburns creep down my face, long before the caterpillar took up residence on my lip. The grocery store* in which I worked, had strict rules about facial hair that were hard to misinterpret: NO FACIAL HAIR.
I annoyed the daylights out of my boss, who used to grouse at me, but ultimately had too much appreciation for the O’Neill work ethic, to terminate our relationship. My older brother Brian was the assistant manager, a business major at Cal Poly, Pomona, and the penultimate conservative guy, whitewalls and all. If Augie were annoyed at me, he would plant a bug in Brian’s ear, who would come home and complain about it at the dinner table, and my father would get involved. He, of the WWII flattop era, had no tolerance for my antics.
I went from this setting into the military, where I engaged in a series of machinations, in order to retain possession of my “Unauthorized Pet,” becoming the only guy in a company of 200 recruits, to wear a mustache, simply because I had one when I had my military identification picture taken.**
As a student at San Jose State University, (the EIGHT years after being released from the military) I wore a raging red beard, and allowed my hair to relocate, outside of my scalp, by the same process of inactivity which works so successfully with facial hair. The downside was the inevitable reaction when encountering people who did not know me, sort of an unease, despite the presence of backpack and SJSU t-shirt. Lots of men were hair guys; I didn’t invent the look.
As a teacher, after working for about five years, I allowed my hair to grow out, and I had a prominent beard, more to demonstrate the adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Of course, I also wore dress slacks and a tie to work Monday through Thursday, so there was balance to my act.
Now I keep my hair short, primarily because a whiny shoulder does not allow me to braid it any longer, and it’s just simpler that way. I do have my mustache, which I began on April 5th, 2010, and which I hold responsible for the Giants winning the World Series that year. I figure that if my mustache has that kind of panache, I may as well hold out for winning the lottery. I won’t hold my breath however, because that could be hazardous to my health. If I don’t asphyxiate myself, then I better be careful I don’t trip over it, because it may be a while. And oh yeah, it might help if I bought a ticket.
* I wrote about my tenure in the grocery business in Sunrize Market, which I posted in August, 2011.
** There are two short, comical pieces of writing, one entitled Rat Fuzz, and the other The Unauthorized Pet, taken from my Military Madness work, and posted in October.