The Beard

I’m having trouble with my beard. Sounds stupid right? I mean we either have one or we don’t. Some men have beards. Some men don their beard if it’s in fashion and others just don’t wear one. There’s one of those expressions you hear at some point in your life “don’t trust a man with a beard”. I have one. Sometimes. If it’s not a beard it’s stubble. My face is slightly asymmetrical. No one can see it but me. My lazy eye gives it away sometimes but, I learned over the years that unless I’m very tired no one seems to notice. Or at least if they do they don’t say anything.

The beard thing though is bugging me. It’s like choosing a shirt in the morning. That’s another thing that’s getting under my skin. I’d created the outline of an outfit that removed the uncertainty of deciding what I felt like wearing. Jeans, black t-shirt, shirt if I want to look smart. None but the jewelry I was given that has sentiment (wedding ring, anniversary ring etc.) Thought this would make my life simpler but, it hasn’t.

The plain fact is I only have two pairs of jeans I feel comfortable in. I’m happy in a grey or black t-shirt but, once I have to think beyond those it becomes a question of “what am I trying to convey, how am I feeling, does it matter today?” So I chose one shirt. The Oxford from the Gap. doesn’t require any ironing if you hang it as soon as it’s out of the wash, fits fine. Straightforward… right?

Some time ago I’d decided to resolve the issue of ‘dress’ by sketching what I would look like. I’d even set color limits on the clothes. I was happy. Jeans or corduroys, leather belt (brown), Shirt or t-shirt (shirt always with a short collar buttoned down), v-neck sweater and if I had to be dressy, sports jacket (single breasted only) and possibly tie (skinny). Day to day: jeans and a t-shirt (black or grey), maybe a sweater of some kind but, most likely crew necked and woolly if I really had to wear one. It’d be one of those sweaters that you felt like you’d had for ages and you’d look anything but pretentious wearing it. For that you’d be cool… and comfortable.

Now my beard is starting to grow again. I snipped at my tache. Hairs were curling over my lip. I looked at the growth under my bottom lip and realized it’s starting to look quite bushy. I’m getting worried I’m going to start looking like a biker. Maybe a stoner or something. The thing is that I like the occasional grey hair that sticks out amongst the blonde, red and tan. I feel as if the hair fits my face like a good pair of sunglasses. I’m reinventing myself with a simpler life. With it a beard.

The conundrum. I’d set the uniform as a way of challenging OCD. The amount of mental energy spent rolling my sleeves right, making sure that everything fit and had a ‘look’… hung together so to speak, it’d become too much. To top it off I’d started to feel like people like me had to dress a certain way (people in creative departments in ad agencies). Did I look like I was supposed to? Then there were all the new styles. Inspiration at every corner. I wanted to shut down.

In the beginning I just dressed and it worked. It just happened. I got complimented sure. I was younger, I wasn’t really paying attention but, I wanted to look good. I just didn’t know it. My Dad would comment at the amount of time I spent looking in the mirror. Vanity, maybe? But, I was a teenager and like guys of that age with a penis I liked attracting women. I loved the tan skin against my light colored sleeve.

I grew and as I did my uniform changed. But, somehow a little flair was always there. Then the Sartorialist came along and it kinda ruined everything for me. I had to have those purple loafers. He was taking pictures of me. All the subtle flair in every image felt like me and the more that the pictures felt like me the less like me I started to feel. What was a healthy sense of vanity turned into an unhealthy uncertainty… dare I say it, lack of self confidence. Every effort afterwards felt like a facsimile of genuine… no… innate style. Fake.

I think the end of the 90’s had something to do with it if I’m honest. Only the British looked good in the 90’s. Sorry. All those boxy shirts or baggy jackets everyone else wore were missed by the slim fitting trousers and jeans. Even retro was better in England. Sure the early 90’s were a disaster I’ll give you that. No one remembers or Eclipse Black and Baggy, Reebok Classics and Happy Hardcore. But, everyone knows Paul Smith, Massive Attack, Portishead and let’s face it even Dolce and Gabbana ads were better in British magazines. Fucking hell Kate Moss is English… and she’s from fucking Croydon. That’s how it felt anyway. Then came 2000. With it my 20’s and a lot of confusion to boot. Kate’s a mum now… though she could be 16 when she speaks.

We’re now in the second decade of another millennium. Half way through in fact. Exactly 75% of the way through the first 20% of this century. Fuck that’s gotta mean something. It does to me because at the end of the last century I was reading books written by people at the start of it and thinking how far away it was. I’m now looking in a temporal mirror and with it my life. Those curls over my lip are a marker. A point in time. The more I think about it the more of blip I become as the hair washes down the drain. I’ll be in my 50’s in the 30’s. Imagine saying that in 1999.

There are those guys, you know the type. Always look well groomed. Put a lot of effort into it. Yeah those ones. With the pressed shirts, manicured hands and perfectly styled hair (mine’s perfectly unstyled). Those ones. Yeah… the bankers, lawyers, city folk. Well they always had it right. Bastards.

And then there’s my bloody beard.

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