Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This Beard Thing

Or, Accidental Facial Hair as Marriage Support and Marketing Tool

Like most men, I know a whole lot more about how to screw up a relationship than I do about how to maintain one. And while there are many, many things I have discovered that will invariably deep-six a marriage, there are few absolute, positive rules I have learned over the years that, when followed, actually serve to reinforce the marital bond, at little or no cost.

One of these, of course, is frequent use of the phrase “Yes, Dear” - a conditioned response that has long been
a mantra in my marital vocabulary.

Another rule is one I stumbled on entirely by accident, and one that I share freely with my married friends – just in case they haven’t already figured this one out for themselves:

If she says “I like that,” DO IT AGAIN.

I know. It seems so obvious.

Maybe it’s because we married men hardly ever do anything that brings a spontaneous smile to our beloved’s lips. Not that we don’t try, mind you. We, as a species, apparently just aren’t very good at it.

That’s why it is so important that we pay attention whenever we stumble upon something that makes the missus happy. Most of the time this is entirely unexpected. (After all, if we anticipated a positive reaction, we’d have done the thing already. Probably a lot.)

In my case, the thing that made my wife smile was whiskers. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Don’t they want us to shave?’ Yes. Definitely. Usually. I think.

Anyway, it was along weekend, and I didn’t have any place I had to be for a few days, so what the heck? Be lazy. Let the whiskers grow. When I finally did find my razor again, just for fun I only trimmed up the sides, leaving in place a scratchy goatee. This will get her attention, I thought. And I was right.

The idea was to sneak up behind her, steal a gentle hug, then tickle the side of her cheek and neck with my new crop of stubble. “Yikes!” she would say, followed by a string of unpublishable commentary and instructions regarding the shortcomings of my grooming habits.

Well not so, gentlemen. Not this time. Instead of wrenching herself away from my embrace, and ordering me back to the bathroom sink to complete the job, the girl snuggled in a little closer. “Mmmm,” she said. “I like that.”

Who’d have ever guessed? She said that she thought I would look good with a goatee. Not only that, but just maybe I might want to grow my hair out a little longer, too…

What’s a fella to say, other than Yes, Dear.
It might take some getting used to, I thought, but I could probably learn to live with chin whiskers and a ponytail. So it was that the short-cropped, clean-cut visage that had been mandated decades earlier in my hospital days slowly transformed into something more akin to General Custer.

As it turned out (as it usually does), her preference had additional advantages. B.C. (Before Chinhair), I regularly had to convince people that I was engaged in a creative profession.

“You really don’t look like an artist.”
“No? Why is that?”
“I don’t know exactly. You look a little too… respectable.”

Since I began taking my wife’s advice, looking respectable is no longer a problem. Thanks to the new hairstyles, it is now easy to pick out the Artist, anywhere in the room. On top of that, my professional credibility has skyrocketed. “He must be very good at what he does. He just looks so… Artistic.”
I like to think so, anyway. I also try to keep an ear tuned to anything my wife says that she thinks she likes about me. Whatever it might be, I plan to keep doing it.

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