Written by Bob Woelk Wednesday, 11 April 2007 08:06
|Rare photo: Bob Woelk without facial hair.|
“What happened?” That was my favorite response spoken by several people when they first viewed my freshly shaven face over spring break in March.
They spoke it as if there had been some terrible accident, and I had somehow gotten my upper lip and chin in the way.
Once people got over the shock of the way I looked, they invariably asked why I had done it. The simple answer was because I had worn the mustache for a full 30 years, and I wanted to see what I looked like without it. I wanted to see if I appeared younger. After all, my salt-and-pepper facial hair had become much more salty and peppery of late.
My kids (my son, the oldest, is 23) had never looked upon their father’s bald face. Jordan’s simple response was, “What is that all about?” when he saw me.
My daughter, 17, said, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t even look at you like that.”
“My wife’s response?” you may be asking. Well, suffice it to say her reaction was not as positive as I had envisioned. All those years of complaining about how my wild mustache hairs tickled her nose when we occasionally kissed were apparently put aside as she commented, “That is not the man I married.”
The mustache was already in place, though somewhat more sparsely populated with whiskers, when we started dating back in October 1978.
I know this because I can tell to the month, the week and even to the day with a little research, when I stopped shaving my upper lip. My basketball coach, Goessel’s legendary Chet Roberts, would not let his players wear facial hair during the season.
In plain fact, I was pretty excited the first time he demanded that I shave. It meant I actually had a crop of hay worth swathing. But, when the state tournament was over in March 1977, I decided to let myself go. The rest, as they say, is hairy history.
That’s another reason I decided to fully shave my face this March. I am a creature of habit. Well, not really. I like change. But, I am a creature of statistical streaks. I like to see how long I can go before I fail to complete a regular task.
For example, I have gone about two years without ever forgetting to floss before bed. That’s significant because I never used to floss, which means I went about 46 years avoiding the task.
I have also started reading through the Bible after receiving a new 365-day Good Book for Christmas. Unfortunately, I misplaced it over spring break and broke my streak of not missing a day. I found it the next morning and quickly made up the chapter from the night before, but I was a bit disappointed at what I considered a failure in consistency.
I had been leading up to the day I would shave for the past several weeks. I had figured the best time to lop my mustache off would be the first day of spring break, a Saturday. That way, I could use the week away from school to produce a new crop of facial fur.
On the fateful day, I took a minute to gaze in the mirror at myself, then grabbed the electric razor and dug right in—literally. I started with the sideburn trimmer on my shaver. That buzzed me down to stubble.
Then, I tried to use the regular blades. They didn’t do much except get really warm, so I moved on to a second, older electric razor. It, too, failed me.
I finally had to resort to the old-fashioned manual model with the twin blades. It removed the hair all right, but it took off a layer of by-now very sensitive skin as well. Ouch.
When all was said and done, my face felt like it was on fire, and the skin looked like it was burning as well. It was bright red. So, I slathered on some lotion and hoped the redness would be better by the Sunday morning.
It wasn’t. That meant that, in addition to having a face as smooth as a baby’s butt, I would also draw attention to my new look at church by glowing in the dark.
It was at that point that I realized the folly of my ways. I like change, but not that much. I looked like a naked mole rat (see photo). When I breathed out, I felt a cool rush of air over my lip, and I worried about frostbite and sunburn at the same time. I had to make sure my nose hairs were properly trimmed.
When I glanced at myself in the mirror, my mouth looked like I was constantly frowning. My forehead appeared to be twice its normal size.
Overall, I wasn’t pleased. I may have been more aerodynamic for running purposes, and I may have looked younger, but the negatives outweighed the positives.
So, the bottom line is that the beard and mustache are making a comeback. My face was fully shaved for exactly one day. I’m now ready to start a next streak of shaveless days.
Will the bare-faced look ever return? I’ve learned never to say never, but I don’t think it’s likely. I should keep it for at least 10 years because I had my picture taken for a passport just before I shaved, and that document is good for a decade. I don’t know that leaving the country without a beard is a matter for homeland security, but it makes a good excuse.
In closing, I would like to offer the top 10 reasons for a man to maintain a beard and mustache.
10. It makes all the guys who can’t grow facial hair jealous. My beard is thicker than the average middle schooler’s.
9. It gives a gentleman something to play with while contemplating life’s tough questions or watching a close basketball game.
8. I am told it makes one look more professorial. I don’t know what it does for two.
7. It balances out the losses on the top of my head.
6. People likely won’t mistake me for a woman. Not that that ever happened before, mind you.
5. Two words that can be avoided: razor burn.
4. Babes giggle when you kiss them, no matter what their ages.
3. A good facial growth is spf 30 or more.
2. Character actor Wilford Brimley has a mustache, and I’ve been told he’s dang sexy.
1. It’s a great place to store leftovers for later.q