In the spring of 1968 I was called into the Dean’s office at Phillips University. Dean Eulla Belle McNiff—no kidding— said this to me, “It has been noticed that you are growing a beard, why are you doing this”? I came up with what I thought was one of my best smart a__ answers. “Well, Dean McNiff, I have been shaving for about a year and I want to see if I really had hair on my face”? “It’s not some form of protest is it”? “Nope, just curiosity”.
Sometime in late 1969 I grew a mustache and for the last 52 years I have had facial hair.
Back in August I offered this to the fates, “If on January 20, 2021, I feel hope for the country, I will shave”. This was my bribe to the universe. I know people who will only wear certain things when the Broncos play, baseball players who jump over lines, and people who actually follow horoscopes. For me it was the opposite of my 1968 gambit— I wanted to see how I might look with a shiny face.
Sue, our wonderful “assistant production manager” at FCC Greeley, peeked her head in the office and after pondering a bit said, “You look a little less honest”. I said, “Sort of a like politician who keeps changing their position” “Yep, that will do”.
I FaceTimed my daughter Amy in Texas, whose whole family were saying “We have never seen this face before”. “What do you think?”… dead silence. “Well, grandpa what do you think”? They have mastered the art of answering a question with a question. “I will tell you in a year”. My New Mexico daughter in law said, “You look 15 years younger”. Whether she was just being kind or honest, that is the right thing to say to someone who is considering double knee replacements soon.
The problem with being clean shaven is that you have to shave everyday. I have had added seven minutes to my morning time line. Beards throughout history have been in and out of fashion. The gnarly “Charley Blackmon” full facial Grizzly Adams beards creep me out. The now fashionable four-day shadow look makes me want to say, “Take a stand, either grow the thing or shave”.
I have been in four Zoom meetings since the day I revealed my hairless face. In the first one not a word was said, the same in the second. Yesterday I got a text message, “You shaved”, and today in a meeting one person said, “Something is different about you”.
Well, Eulla Belle, once again my face hair curiosity got the best of me— we will see how it grows.
Onward and Upward, Mark