Shelby was telling me about her plans to dye her hair to give it more of a reddish tint. This was when I had one of those moments where something funny pops into my head that’s better left unsaid, but I blurted it out anyway.
“Why don’t you dye the hair on your legs while you’re at it,” I said. “Then it will match.”
I didn’t particularly mean anything by it, but I quickly found myself sitting alone on the couch as Shelby was marching up the stairs.
It’s not like I had a lot of room to talk. In fact, at that point I was into about Week One of not shaving, too. At least not shaving my chin.
The idea popped into my head a couple of weeks ago when my dad made a snide comment about facial hair. (However, I’m pretty sure that at some point several years ago, Dad had a goatee himself. I think there are pictures.) After the conversation I decided that, yes, I was capable of looking stupid, also. So I decided to stop shaving my chin.
There are lots of things that I can do quickly, but growing hair on my face is not one of them. After the first week, there was some real definite stubble there. And people started noticing. However, comments were rarely constructive.
Especially not from my dad, who regularly encouraged me to get rid of it every morning. Had I been born with the gift of quickly thinking up snappy comebacks, I would have said, “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.”
Instead, I just grunted, which is my primary source of communication before I’ve had my Wheaties.
Of course, outside of my family, I thought maybe people would be a little more encouraging. They weren’t.
“That’s just from a week?” Mrs. Just, my choir director asked. “You’re not a very fast grower.”
I found this mildly offensive. After all, I was trying as hard as I could. It’s not my fault that it takes me more time than others to grow some extra chin insulation.
Others were just as blunt, but not as polite.
“When are you going to shave that off?” Becky said. “It’s gross.”
Becky and I have been friends for a very long time, so very few topics are sacred. Not even the sensitive issue of my young beard.
One of the few people who was supportive of my attempt to grew a beard was Shelby. She consistently made encouraging remarks on my progress, and stroked my chin. However, I think she might have been a little worried for her own personal safety.
About halfway through my second week of not shaving my chin, she showed me an article in the latest issue of Seventeen magazine.
Seventeen is aimed at girls, and I actually find it fairly fascinating. If the articles are any indication of what is truly going on inside a girl’s brain, then I’m definitely thankful God had the foresight to make me a guy.
This issue alone had several intriguing, hard-hitting and insightful (by which I actually mean fairly stupid) articles.
The front boasted, “THE HAIR ISSUE! Get your perfect style now,” and lower on the cover was the ominous headline, “Is your best friend flirting with your boyfriend?”
Inside the magazine were articles about getting the guy every girl wants (“four ways to catch his eye”), how to choose the best sunglasses for your face, “how to get luxurious locks in minutes” and what supposedly makes me, as the boyfriend, jealous.
I think the publishers of Seventeen”use the same articles in every issue, because they all seem exactly the same in content. The only things that change are the pictures, which there are lots of—of girls wearing bright clothes and too much makeup and either making big-grinny-faces or sultry-pouty-faces.
But the article Shelby showed me was titled, “Gross things you get from making out.”
Showing up last on the list (after cold sores, gingivitis and mononucleosis) was the devastating, sinister and life-threatening beard burn.
She didn’t come right out and say it, but I think Shelby was worried about her well-being in regards to my new facial hair.
“Your skin can get irritated when his stubble rubs against it,” the article stated, “causing a painfully tender red rash that screams, ‘I just hooked up!’”
But regardless of what anyone thought about my stubble, they don’t have to worry any more, because I accidentally shaved right down the middle of it last Sunday.
And as far as I can tell, Shelby shaved her legs, too.
* * *
UFO: If you were wondering, Seventeen says that to cure beard burn, you must “apply a thin layer of 1 percent hydrocortisone cream on the rash at night to reduce redness and soothe the skin. Avoid scrubbing that part of your face and skip any harsh or drying products, like exfoliating cleansers.” Now you know.
Don’t ask why.