It was Phil’s fault, really. We were kids although I didn’t think so then: almost twenty year-olds, working in the same office. He went away on vacation and came back with a beard. Which I thought looked really cool. He soon shaved it off, but when I went away on vacation, I grew one too.
In 1967, Ron and I went to Expo 67 in Montreal for a week before heading for a week of back country camping in Algonquin Park. Of course, neither of us shaved out there in the wild, but he did as soon as we got back to civilization. However, although I did shape it quite a bit, I decided to hang onto mine for awhile longer.
That weekend, there was a young peoples gathering from our church. It was a corn roast or some such. Cuppa and I had just begun hanging around together before my holidays, but as soon as she saw the new me, she gave me her unqualified endorsement.
So, it’s Cuppa’s fault.
Here’s what the beard looked like not long afterward, just before I went away to university. In these pictures I was in my silly initiation costume that Cuppa had made for me according to the specifications that I received in the mail.
Times were different, especially since we were quite involved with in an evangelical church, so there was a certain amount of tut-tutting by many of the oldsters. However, all of the kids were fine with it as I recall, and the tut-tutting didn’t really faze me.
For a number of years it was on again and off again for various whims or reasons. For example: I decided that I should be married beardless, and I also shaved it off when I was in teachers college and looking for a job. However, I had it when Thesha was born and until she was a few years old . She was a year old in the following three photos.
Thesha was about three or four years old when I decided to shave it off again. The first time she saw me, she drew back in alarm, and it took her a few days to warm up to dear old dad once again. So, when I got around to growing it again, I figured I’d better keep it for the long haul. And a long haul it was, for I kept it for about twenty-five years. The next photo was taken during that time period, but earlier in the period rather than later.
Ten years ago, I had the urge to become re-acquainted with my face, so I shaved it off the night before Cuppa and I headed off in the car across much of Canada. She was shocked to wake up on the morning of our trip and find a clean shaven stranger in the house. I had thought I had given enough hints of what I was going to do, but apparently my hints were too vague.
Having seen enough of my face , I grew it back once again after a few months and continued to sport it until Thesha’s wedding four years later. By this point, it was covering a lot more face than the initial beard back in 1967 when I didn’t even retain the moustache … or even a mustache. However, I remained somewhat weary of tending to it by keeping it shaped and trimmed, so I decided to reduce it.
Not wishing to revert to the bare face, however, I chose to pare it down to a goatee. I’ve been fairly happy with that look and thought I’d never grow a fuller beard again.
But just lately, after more than six years without the fuller beard, I got to pondering once again. How much gray had crept into my beard, I wondered. Eventually, I had to find out. I’m still in the process of finding out because it’s not in fully yet, but after a month, I can pretty well tell that for some strange reason, I still have more dark that gray. I find this weird because various friends of mine had beards which they shaved around the age of forty because their beards became very gray even when their hair hadn’t. Genetics is a strange thing, for my hair remains mostly dark on both my head and face or so it appears at this point. Of course, I’ll know better in a few more weeks.
I have placed a condition on this variation of the beard, however. If you look at the sequence of pictures, you’ll notice that I always attempted to shape my beard (although it was getting fairly full at the end — in 2004). I was seldom terribly ecstatic with the results, but I always tried. Now, I vow to either like it the way that it grows, or I will, once again, trim it back to goatee proportions. That doesn’t mean I won’t do a thing to it. No, I’ll keep it off my neck, and I have already trimmed back the outliers that grow beyond the real beard line up towards the eyes. I will not, however, give myself endless headaches about shaping, for I now choose to go with a more or less a full and unshaped beard. That doesn’t mean, however, that I intend for it to be inordinately long or scruffy, for I do intend keep the thing in check. It’s my preference.
It also doesn’t mean that I’ll never change my mind. 🙂
So … how long this iteration of the hairy-faced AC will remain extant is unknowable at this point. However, I am committed to letting it thicken before I decide, and I also vow to keep it until Christmas: at least until Christmas.