While I was packing for the trip to Peru I debated whether to bring my razor and stay clean-shaven, or to bring my beard trimmers and simply buzz things into shape every few days. My preference, of course, is generally to be clean-shaven, but I became a fan of managed stubble during my travels in Central America.
Amanda, sensing a chance for some fun, challenged me to stop shaving altogether to see how long my beard got during the two weeks. I decided to give it a go but only on two conditions: First, I had to be able to shave my neck as often as I wanted. No way was I going to run around Peru looking like a hippie/bushman, and a clean neck was a sure way to minimize the risk of that. Second, I told Amanda that she had to watch vigilantly for the moment when (clean neck notwithstanding) the rest of the stubble stopped being okay and started making me look like a hippie or a bushman or excessively aged. She said she would.
So I stopped shaving. At first it was fun; I felt kind of rakish. Then it was weird; I felt self conscious. Then it was a blessing; I felt (very slightly) warmer during the cold nights in the Andes. Then it was annoying; I felt like I had all this prickly, itchy stuff on my face (because I did). Finally, it was awful; in the heat and humidity of Virginia, I felt stifled and claustrophobic. Time to shave it off.
But you don’t spend two weeks trying to grow a beard just to cut it off in one fell swoop. Instead, you spend all Sunday morning before church trying to figure out how all those handsome guys in the movies got their facial hair to look the way it does. Because maybe, just maybe, you might strike facial hair gold and end up looking like one of them.
Turns out, those ‘dos aren’t easy to do. I am now highly skeptical that any pirate or swashbuckler would actually have had as picturesque a goatee or moustache as we’ve been led to believe they had. Genes may have something to do with it (I’m not ruling out the possibility of hot pirates), but I’m pretty sure that for most of these guys the comely scruff is the work of talented stylists… Needless to say, until I get such a stylist, I’m going back to my clean-shaven ways.