The biblical story of Samson says he needed his hair for his strength. But does hair truly define the man?
Proving once again that I have too much time on my hands, I calculated the number of times I have shaved in my life. Remember, there are lot of years involved here. The number I came up with is a staggering 21,170—give or take a few hundred.
The number 21,170 might sound pretty precise but it’s only an estimate. It doesn’t consider those pesky February 29th’s that pop up every now and then. It also doesn’t include that day in September 1987 when I shaved twice or the time in January 2003 that I didn’t shave at all. In addition, it ignores those days in boot camp when I shaved every 30 minutes to keep that surly man with all the stripes on his arm from yelling at me.
Assuming that it takes me about four minutes to shave, I’ve spend 86,800 minutes over the years doing nothing but shaving. That amounts to more than 60 days – two months! (Don’t forget that I’m math-challenged.) If that number is right, or even nearly right, it means that I’ve spent 60 days that surely could have been put to better use. I could have learned to speak Portuguese, written the great American novel, climbed Mount Everest (or at least one of Florida’s larger hills). Actually, instead of missing a chance to learn Portuguese, I was really thinking about how nice it would be to have 60 more days of eating, drinking, or being involved in fun activities that one should not discuss in a family magazine.
It may be time to pull a David Letterman. Have you seen old Dave lately? Well, the 71-year-old clean-shaven king of late-night television is no more. The smooth-cheeked reader of 4,600 Top Ten lists has disappeared. He’s been replaced by a scruffy, hairy guy who has a humongous grey beard that sprouts in about 82 different directions.
The New York Times wrote a long story about Letterman and his new beard. One might think that Letterman was making some bold sociological statement by not shaving or perhaps expressing a deep and profound statement about the duality of man. (I have no idea what that means but I heard it in a movie once and it sounded cool.) Letterman’s reason for the beard was a lot less philosophical: “I just got tired of shaving every day.”
The new beard, the Times said, makes Dave look “either like a lanky Santa Claus or an escapee from an asylum.” The asylum escapee analogy is right on, but the Santa Claus one falls short. Dave actually looks more like a tall Gabby Hayes with a cigar.
Gabby Hayes-look or not, the idea of not shaving did have some appeal to me—at least until my wife rolled her eyes and reminded me of the Great Mustache Mistake. A few years back, everybody where I worked was growing a mustache. I tried but found that my facial hair grows very, very slowly. (My 5 o’clock shadow is a 5 o’clock fuzzy-wuzzy.) For weeks, while my mustache was trying to come to life, my upper lip looked like a small caterpillar with a crew cut was taking a nap there.
It’s amazing to see the number of people in my demographic (meaning old, fat men) who have facial hair. They have glorious handle-bar mustaches, bushy sideburns, goatees, and dozens of other options. There also are all those guys who have fuzzy faces that look like they haven’t shaved in the last three days, which, of course, they haven’t. That won’t work for me since it would take three weeks to get the same look.
All of this means that growing a mustache or any kind of beard is out for me. Maybe I should give up haircuts. There are those, including my wife, who claim that I’ve already done that.
There was a time not long ago when long hair on men was not only accepted, it also was applauded. Remember those days of wonderful fashions for men, like flowered bell trousers, leisure suits, and the remarkably weird Nehru jacket? My hair was about average for those psychedelic days—meaning it hit my shoulders.
During this delightful era, I took a job at a college in an ultraconservative small town. On my first day on the job, the New Boss called me into his office. With a very somber face, New Boss said, “We need you to do something.”
Since I was a smashing-looking young fellow (in my mind anyway), I was certain he was going to tell me not to hanky-panky with the coeds since they wouldn’t be able to resist me. I was ready to tell him that I was happily married and, besides, I didn’t want to become a Harvey Weinstein in 30 years.
New Boss just looked me square in the eye and said: “Get a haircut.”