“My daddy had a thick black beard,” Mom recalled when I apologized for my three-day scruff, though he did not let it grow long. As a child, she loved sitting on her father’s lap and rubbing her soft little hands on the prickly stubble of his weekend beard. I learned this because she said to me one Saturday afternoon, “Come here—I’ll show you what I used to do to my daddy when I was a little girl.” Then she rubbed her soft old hands on my prickly weekend stubble. I shave on days one and three because on day two there isn’t quite enough to comfortably shave. I wore a full salt-and-pepper beard to Brian’s college graduation. But I looked old and heavy and worn in all the photos. So, I decided to lose weight and lose the beard. One less beard and 40 less pounds later, I feel better and look younger (relative). Besides, I could no longer endure the never-ending itching against the pillow. And I cannot imagine a woman wanting to kiss a man’s lip hair, so I shave my lip on principle. I shaved my beard one time because a coworker said it looked like an armpit. Nope—no more beards for me. I think we will not make a habit of Mom rubbing her hands on my whiskery face. But she blows me a kiss every night as I wander up to bed and she finishes the nightly news. “Hey Baby,” she calls. “I sure love you.” And I blow her a kiss back.
Pictured above: Wallace “Wally” Bawden c. 1962.