My father’s hairline. 

Having a beard (the thing that grows out of a grown man’s face, not a women covering for closeted homosexuals) seems to be the latest trend that men need to subscribe to in order to fit in. What’s more is that there are apparently some women out there that actually like beards.

My ‘beard-ing’ back story.

There used to be a time when I absolutely hated shaving. Yes, it was my teenage years. And yes, a good chunk of my hatred for facial grooming came from people (school administrators, bosses at work) telling me that I needed to do it. We men are a generic and sometimes unoriginal species. 

I blame my father for not teaching me properly. He was a cheap son of a bitch who’s weaponry of choice for shaving didn’t leave the realm of a can of Barbasol and the Bic razors with the orange cap. There was a brief and potentially ill-advised period where he used a Braun shaver. If I’m not mistaken that didn’t last long because of a technical malfunction that either took off a chunk of his face or ending up burning the shit out of him.

At any rate, when I needed to start shaving on a regular basis, I was started out on Barbasol and cheap-o Bic razors. Like the naive rube I was, I didn’t question my father’s choice despite the miles of razor rash and mounds of ingrown hairs.

About a year after I graduated high school (1999-sh), my employer at the time had reevaluated their dress code. The end result was that men were know allowed to wear beards. Suffice it to say, I bearded up hard and kept my beard in some form or fashion for the next couple of years. That’s right: I had a beard before beards were cool.

As you can see, it was not a coiffed fru fru beard that some of my constituents wear today. This was a full blown ‘there might be a small animal living in there’ face bracken. 

The only thing I did to groom it back in those days was the occasional freshening up with a pair of scissors and of course, trimming the hair around my face-hole when that interrupted my feedings.

For the record, there were no living animals cohabiting with my face. At best, there might’ve been the odd pen (for real, my shit was that thick and it held said pen better than behind my ears ever could).

Also, beards stop at the throat, NOT THE JAW LINE. If you are one of THOSE, you need to fix that ASAP. You look goddamn ridiculous with sculpted facial hair and a fucking gobbler because you stopped taking care of yourself in your mid-20’s.

The thing that struck me almost immediately when my beard reached full maturity was how apart of my personality it became. 

If someone who knew me was talking to someone I had met in passing, I was referred to as ‘the guy with the beard’. If I was lost in thought or if someone had asked me a question that required pondering, you’re damn right I’d contemplatively stroke my chin whiskers.

Why I have made a point of shaving daily.

Since my ‘full-of-shit’ 20’s, my facial hair has come and gone. I have had the Abraham Lincoln, mutton chops, the Chester A. Arthur, and for a brief period of time, just a moustache. 

And yes, my wife has had a signifcant impact on the type of facial hair I had, if any at all. To wit, the last beard I had, I had because my wife had implored me to use beard oil.

It was the best beard I ever had. It smelled great. It didn’t itch when it was coming in. Best of all, it didn’t have that pube-y consistent that beards occasionally fall prey to.

My outlook on facial hair took a turn in my mid-30’s when I realized I was gaining my father’s hairline.

Receding hairlines and baldness can be a bitch if really let it get under your skin. For the longest time, I fought against the inevitable because I was a vain prat who wanted to be himself and not an iteration of his predecessors.

It was pretty bad: Nioxin, the stuff your supposed to use in between Nioxin cycles (I can’t remember the name and given my shame, I don’t want to invest the mouse clicks to find out…) jojoba oil, natural treatments… You name it, I have done it. And it was all in an attempt to avoid/delay/prolong the inevitable:

I was going to get my father’s hairline whether I wanted to or not. 

It’s not that bad, my hairline. If I had to describe it, it is a more kempt version of Bill Murray’s a la Ghostbusters. There’s some obvious recession that can be seen in a high forehead to hair proportion but there’s still that one chunk, front and center that refuses to give up the ghost.

What does that have to do with beards?

Some guys can pull off the receding hairline + beard, and others can’t. Given my genetics, I think I am in the ‘can’t’ category. Even though my father and I share the same hairline, the difference between the two of us lies in the fact that his hair was practically straight and my was, and is, thick likes sheep’s wool.

(Receding afro + pube-like beard = bad news bears).

Once things reached a critical mass with my thinning hair, I decided to start cutting my hair close to the scalp and shaving my face everyday.

To me, there’s nothing worse than a man looking in the mirror and seeing how things used to be. I am not one of those men.

Besides, there’s a man factor of +1000 when you’re clean-shaven and good smellin’ on a daily basis. 

On my son’s birthday.

My son turned 9 years old Saturday.

Not a monumental occasion. At least not for most of you. Kids turn 9 everyday of the week.

For me, his birthday has served as a reminder, like all of the other birthdays before it that fatherhood is quite a mind-blowing adventure.

Truth be told I had never thought that I would be a father, let alone be any good as one. I don’t have any specific data to back that claim up, it’s just the way that I always felt about the subject.

I remember when The Wife was told me she was pregnantI always thought it was strange what your mind let’s you remember about a specific event that happened in your life. I can still remember what the weather was like on that day. I remember exactly where I was at when I found out. And I remember knocking back a bag of Doritos when I came home from work like some absent-minded stoner.

I remember the day he was born. The weather was shit. I remember how every muscle in my body froze when the Mid-Wife told me that I would be helping with the delivery, acting as one half of a human stirrups (I held one of the wife’s legs up while a nurse held up the other). All through out the pregnancy, I made a point of politely mentioning that I didn’t want to be anywhere near Wife’s nether regions during the actual delivery. I saw a vagina do things that day that a lifetime of watching porno will never prepare you for.

For me the highlight of the whole event was watching the Mid-Wife extract my son from my Wife. One minute, I’m watching Wife’s face turn all shades of red. I turn my head and I see my son, mid-air (in the capable hands of the Mid-Wife) pissing and shitting at the same time. The look on his face almost said ‘Heeeeeeyyyy! What the FUCK?!!?’

I remember the day that I gave him his first train. As anyone who knows him at all, trains were his bread and butter.

Yes, it’s a train whistle. That’s how hardcore he was about them. He fell asleep with it in his mouth.

We were living in Tremont at the time. It was a Saturday and we were all going somewhere. Where exactly, I can’t remember. Before we all got in the car, I grabbed the mail and took it with me. One of the things that I got that day was a package from Toys R’ Us. For some reason they sent me a complimentary Thomas the Tank Engine. It was just a small wooden train. I still remember rolling my eyes at the wife when she brought up that his older sister might have liked it.

I remember the time that he made me go ass-over-tea-kettle whilst trying to ride a two-wheeler bike. Despite The Wife’s protestations that I was ‘doing it wrong’, I had finally gotten him to the point where I could give him a running start and he could kind of do it on his own. This particular time, he jerked the handlebars and we both went down. He managed to land on his feet (like a good bike rider). I was a rolling ball of arms and legs. I came up laughing because I thought it was awesome. He, however, was not laughing. He was rather bummed that he had hurt me (even though I was fine and I had told him so).

I remember the numerous times that his penchant for being naked got him huge laughs.One time I was doing the dishes. The wife had just finished giving him a bath and he was horsing around with his oldest sister. The next thing that I know, Finn comes barreling into the kitchen, butt-naked and upends the old duffle bag I used to hold all of our plastic shopping bags. Before I can turn the water off and say ‘What the Hell?’Finn’s flopping into the gigantic pile of blue bags, ass first, trying to get a good tail of them stuck in his butt cheeks. He succeeds and proceeds to run all through the apartment. Hands down one of the funniest things I have seen in my life. 

Those are just some of the things that I remember. While there are many more of him and the rest of my family that make fatherhood just as grand of an adventure, these are the ones that come to mind when I think of who my son is and who he might turn out to be. 

Happy Birthday, Juicebox.