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Make over

[Originally published at the now defunct group blog explananda.com]

Posted on February 1, 2008
Tags: personal

We’re experiencing a bit of a delay in getting some immigration issues sorted out, which has led to my not being allowed to work this semester. Although this is very stressful, there is of course an upside: It gives me a chance to experiment with a new look!

I’ve started by growing my hair out. A few years ago, I finally worked up the courage to shave my hair off. At the time, I found it somewhat liberating. I had had the same hair cut my entire life, and suddenly I didn’t have to worry about combing it or bed head or any of that. In a moment of reckless celebration, I threw out all my combs, all two dollar’s worth of them. And I savoured the thought of how much money I would save over the years by being able to cut my own hair. (Actually, I quickly learned that Yoon needed to be around for a post-buzz inspection so that I didn’t accidentally leave patches of hair around my head, like a crazy person. So really shaving my head was always a joint effort.) I also hoped that it would make me look tougher, but as I told my friends at the time, “The good news is that my shaved head makes me look a teensy bit tougher. The bad news is that I’m still the sort of man who says ‘teensy’.”

Anyway, my family thought it looked terrible. I recreate from memory the following conversation with my mother:
Mom: No one likes it, you know.
Me: Huh? What do you mean?
Mom: Well, never mind.
Me: No, what are you talking about? My hair?
Mom: Yes. No one likes it.
Me: That’s what everyone says? It’s a good thing I don’t care.
Mom: Well, your poor wife. Think of her.
Me: She’s one lucky woman is all I can say.
And I can still hear my grandmother saying, “Oh Chris.”

There were other signs that I didn’t look so hot with my head shaved. One of Yoon’s students saw me and said to his mother, “Mommy, does Yooni’s husband have cancer?” And at the end of last semester, I shaved my head after letting my hair grow out a bit, and a student, reflecting on the contrast in an email, told me that I shouldn’t shave my head - and this was before I had submitted the cheeky monkey’s final grade.

So, I’ll grow the hair out, but I haven’t settled on a style - right now I’m still in chia pet mode. I need something that requires little day-to-day maintenance and that is compatible with the fact that I have no money and thick, unworkable, fast-growing hair. I’ve decided to set my reservations aside and let Yoon have a crack at the problem. I figure the worst that can happen is that I’ll have to shave my head and look like a doofus again for a while. But I’m used to it now.

Anyway, I’m also running a little experiment with facial hair at the moment. I stopped shaving for a while in early January, but then the U.S. government wanted a picture of me for immigration purposes and I thought it best to look clean cut. Since this false start, though, I’ve resumed my efforts to put on a bit of facial hair.

Once again I find myself exploring a new look in the face of a certain amount of social resistance. For starters, I’ve had to endure the jibes of the security guard in our building (“Hey, I think you have something on your face. Perhaps a little dirt or something? Hahahaha.”). Also, I can see people looking at me and noticing. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know what they’re thinking. They’re thinking: “What is he thinking?” Finally, Yoon, who detests facial hair, has been dropping little hints that she thinks my face needs a full Brazilian asap. For example, she says, “You look disgusting! You feel disgusting! It’s so gross. I’m not kissing you.” She does kiss me, in fact, but to do it she puckers up her lips really tightly, aims carefully, and then pecks at my face in a vain attempt to avoid any contact with facial hair. And then the grimacing. Always with the grimacing.

To be fair to Yoon, it must be confessed that right now my face looks like ass. By far the worst of it was along the sides of my face, where a real man would have been able to grow a beard. Instead of a beard, I got a sparse population of wiry hairs such as would shame the most socially backward eighth grader. The other day, I finally snapped and retreated to a goatee.

Unlike my hair regrowth project, the facial hair project is strictly a short term affair, undertaken in a spirit of exploration and curiosity. For one thing, I miss being allowed to kiss my wife properly. But more than that, even the damn goatee is growing in in a disappointingly scanty fashion. The colour is actually kind of nice: blond and reddish - “cognac”, let’s be pretentious and call it. But there’s only so much I can take of this grotesque farce and the social opprobrium it brings with it, and I think I’ll be back to shaving regularly (every 2 or 3 days, as required) pretty soon.


Author: Anne
Date: 2008-02-01

I’m torn between wanting pictures and not wanting pictures. I love “your poor wife - think of her” though.

Author: Spaz
Date: 2008-02-01

So much to say, too much really, so I’ll say little.

It seems that for so long its always been about pragmatism and now finally some juvenile experimentation. Let Yoon do your hair. And shave. I know its discouraging that your brother, myself and even Kegri can grow better facial hair, but you’ll get over it. And don’t go to the ‘hair doesn’t grow on steel bit’.

Author: Chris
Date: 2008-02-01

I totally forgot my “hair doesn’t grow on steel” line. OK, I’m going to take refuge in that from now on.

Author: Chris
Date: 2008-02-01

Hey, you know what I’m enjoying, though? I’m enjoying interrupting several conversations a day with “Well, now, that’s an interesting point you’re making. Allow me to ponder it while I thoughtfully stroking my goatee.”

Not enjoying: Yoon today said, while locked in intimate embrace, “Oh my God, it’s like kissing the kitchen scrub!”

I think I’m totally the Rodney Dangerfield of this blog.

Author: Anne
Date: 2008-02-02

You know, it’s possible to thoughtfully stroke an imaginary goatee. I do it all the time.

Author: Anne
Date: 2008-02-02

And “hair doesn’t grow on steel” is pretty awesome.

Author: Chris
Date: 2008-02-02

Indeed, to both #5 and #6.