Last week, in a deliberate act of pre-meditation and long-thought-out determination, I shaved my beard. I had been itching to do so for weeks, but it just didn’t feel like the right time – or the right weather – until last Wednesday night. Even though I’m such an image shifter, it was more fun that I thought it would be (a quick dramatic change isn’t as easy to pull off as one might imagine, even with years of practice), and this was a joyously instant turnabout.
On the beard removal – it was also a bit more emotional than I had foreseen. Being that this was the first proper beard I’d ever grown, and that I’d become rather attached and protective of it (a barrage of insults will do that), I realized that I’d been delaying the shearing process because I was genuinely afraid to let it go. There is definitely some truth to the notion of beards being used as barriers, as well as something behind which one can hide.
Growing a beard made me feel both older and more distinguished, and instantly took me out of the gay guy’s impossible quest to maintain twinkhood. Now, I realize I haven’t been a twink in twenty years, no matter how tight the jeans or flattering the light, but it’s a dream we all keep in the back of our heads, admitted or not. Having a beard immediately allowed (forced) me to give up that ghost, and what followed was an exhilarating feeling of freedom. The shackles of trying to be forever-young were heavier than I realized, so used to them had I become over thirty-six years.
When it came off, I didn’t really see or feel the change right away. Sometimes you only get that in the reactions of others (and my husband is one of the least reactive people I know). It wasn’t until I went into work the next day that I realized what a change had been effected.
I did not feel naked, as some men claim. (Please, you don’t know from naked. I do.) I felt a little cleaner and lighter, less cluttered and hidden, and it was a change I needed. The beard may be back next Fall, but for now it’s going to be smooth sailing.
(The one drawback was that two days later I realized I’d have to shave again. And again. And again. And that, frankly, is a pain in the neck and the jawline.)