Russell’s in town for Christmas. He’s brought along his dog Betty, who has three essential traits: (1) an irresistible impulse to pester Kasey until Kasey bares her teeth and growls; (2) a permanently quizzical expression; and (3) facial markings that look like someone going for a cosmetology degree has encircled her eyes with mascara.
Given the facial markings, “Betty” is a pretty apt name. Give her a beehive, pedal-pushers, and some gum to snap, and she’d fit right into the off-Broadway cast of Grease.
Twenty years ago, I last got a good look at my chin.
We were on a family vacation in Florida, with all of the slow pace and lassitude and relaxed approach to life that you associate with a welcome, sandy beach vacation during the cold weather months. I got totally into the kick back spirit of things and just didn’t feel like shaving — so I didn’t. And after letting the whiskers sprouting from the lower half of my face run riot for a few days, and surviving the initial itchiness that inevitably comes with any growing beard, I decided I might just keep the beard for a while to see how rejoining the hirsute set worked out.
I’d had a beard in college and when I worked as a reporter for the Toledo Blade, then shaved it off when I took a job on Capitol Hill. There weren’t many beards on the Hill in those days. I grew the beard again when I went to law school, then shaved it off again when I started to work at the firm because having a beard didn’t seem like a good idea for a new associate in a law firm in Columbus, Ohio. But by 1997 I’d been at the firm for 11 years, and I figured by then my colleagues would be willing to put up with a little beardedness. And the great thing about a beard is, you can always shave it off.
Twenty years later, I’ve still got that beard hiding my chin(s). The color of the hairs has changed from solid brown to a mixture of brown, gray and white, and I’ve gone through three beard trimmers trying to keep the bristles in moderately presentable form. I’d like to say the beard makes me look distinguished, but that remains an aspirational goal that is yet to be achieved.
Happy beard birthday to my whiskers!