At some point in college, not sure when–I never remember when–I stopped shaving. It was totally intentional. When it comes to facial hair, mostly everything I do is intentional. I only get lazy in my bland conformity. Sexy and cool for guys was invariably linked to a laissez-faire situation on the face, wherein the hair was clearly groomed and styled but also not-at-all-because-guys-don’t-groom-and-style-or-care-about-that-shit. And then I had what I was convinced was a beard.
My beard, it turns out, is a farce. I believe my father told me I looked like “a smacked ass.” I wrote him off, confident that I looked like Ryan Gosling or whoever was popular then. Ryan Reynolds maybe. Or Ryan Sandberg. Meg Ryan? I don’t remember. It was definitely a Ryan though. Either way, when I looked in the mirror, I ignored the sad whiskers running away from each other in varied directions, uninterested in getting together to form any sort of facial fortress.
But then, likely due to boredom or some other naive mimicry of social iconography, I shaved it off. Whatever it was. A creature of sorts, there to remind me that masculinity need not be defined by how much facial hair grows to protect you. Or at least that’s what I tell my tears now when they trickle down my oh-so-smooth face, unimpeded by the forest that might have grown there.