Barbers, Beards and Christmas Gifts

My barber had just finished buzzing the top of my head when he stepped back and asked if I wanted the hair on my chin trimmed, too.

He had the same look in his eye that my wife has been giving me lately. It’s a look that asks “you’re not seriously considering going out in public like THAT are you?

My wife would like nothing better than for me to trim my beard. And for a second, I even thought she might have promised my barber double his usual fee if he could persuade me to let him take a little off the chin.

But my suspicions were eased when, after I politely declined, he shrugged and acknowledged that “a man’s got have a little wild hair somewhere.”

He still seemed disappointed, though, so I tipped him a little more than usual and chalked up his gloom to professionalism. Leaving my unruly whiskers untouched must have seemed too much like leaving part of the job undone.

Despite his apparent discomfort with letting me slip out of his shop still sprouting hair that could benefit from his scissors, I took his “wild hair” comment in a positive light. In fact, I took it as tacit, albeit grudging, acknowledgement that there is a place for facial hair enthusiasts outside of long-bearded hipsters, reality TV stars like the Duck Commander guys and well, shopping mall Santa Clauses.

While my barber’s support seemed hesitant at best (and my wife’s non-existent), I am getting more solid encouragement from other quarters. For instance, my brother and I have lately been comparing our experiences with various beard waxes, conditioners, tamers and oils. He even texted me the other day asking if I knew how long he could expect his beard to grow.

He came to me with that unusual question because I am the unofficial keeper of the family archives. The thing is, though, I had no idea how to answer him. I started exploring family history because I wanted to be able to tell our kids where they come from, not because I wanted to know more about ancestral facial hair.

I ended up telling him that none of the pictures of grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great grandfathers in my possession shows anyone with a big, bushy beard – that in the end, he’ll just have to discover how long his beard will get the same way I am – by growing it.

It’s been years since my brother and I have bonded over anything. We haven’t lived together since we were kids. And aside from our mutual affinity for Star Wars, we haven’t been very good at keeping in touch outside of holidays like Christmas.

That’s why I hate to tell him that I might have to get my chin hair under control, after all.

Unfortunately, I’m having trouble figuring out the perfect Christmas gift for my wife. Nothing has struck me as particularly inspired.

Since I’m clearly running out of time, I might have to give her something more personal.

I just might have to trim my beard.

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