Monday, March 14, 2016

A Blank Canvas

     So… It’s Monday. Yay! I know that some of you dread Mondays, and I can understand that. For me… it’s a blank canvas, ready to be painted on. This is the first Monday post I’ve done, so let’s see where this goes…

     I mentioned last week about people touching my beard. I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that, but it does happen. And yes, I don’t like it, but some people just can’t help themselves it seems.
     Why do I bring this up again? Well, I’m gonna tell you, so hold your horses. Sheesh...

     I didn’t always have this beard, or this style of beard I should say. When I was working full time, health regulations were pretty strict. I could only have a beard if it was one-half inch or less. If it was any longer, I’d have had to wear a beard-net. You know, kinda like a hairnet except it is strictly for beards. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Those things are itchy and I really don’t like things covering my nose and mouth. Anyway, while I was working full time, I always kept my beard and mustache very short.
     Now this is where it gets interesting…
     When I was forced to retire for medical reasons, I was bored out of my mind. That’s when I started writing, for those who didn’t know that tidbit of information. Then I got very depressed. I wasn’t able to do the things that I loved, including work. I got a bit sloppy with my appearance. I mean why bother. Who was going to see me?
     The result was that I turned into a shaggy mess. My hair was… well long, at least for me. My beard got really long. I’d look in the mirror, shrug my shoulders and move on. This was also the time I started gaining weight. I probably gained over twenty pounds within six weeks. I wasn’t working, which kept me active, and I wasn’t even working on my yard, which I'd always been passionate about.
     It wasn’t until a friend of mine, a fellow Chef, called and asked if I was up to helping him at a charity event. Now this event was special to me. It was a charity event that I’d participated in for several years, so of course I jumped at the chance. I wouldn’t be cooking, since I didn’t have a restaurant backing me, but I could do other things. I ended up supervising the support staff for all the Chefs. Most of the staff were culinary students, and that was okay with me. At least I was there.

     Oh my…
     It was then I took a good look at myself. I was a mess. Shaggy didn’t even describe my appearance. I probably could have passed for a homeless person. Hair long, beard and mustache even longer and I was fat. I had one Chef Coat that I could almost get buttoned up and it was tight.
     I had five weeks to get myself put back together. I went on a crash diet, which I’m never good at, but this time I stuck to it. I made an appointment with my barber. (I do miss that man. I always got the perfect haircut from him.)
     When I walked into the barber shop, Tracey, my barber, was stunned. “I thought you’d moved away. Damn, what happened to you?” Yeah, I was a mess. I asked him to clean me up as best he could. He started with my hair, giving me the table-top flat-top that I’d been wearing for I can’t even remember how many years. Then it came to the beard.
     He looked me over, squinting his eyes. Tracey then asked me if I wanted it trimmed short again. I kind of lost it, becoming very emotional. I explained to him what had happened, that I wasn’t working anymore, so it didn’t really matter what he did with the beard. It’s what he said next that kind of made me smile.
     A blank canvas…
     “You can do anything. It’s a great length and the possibilities are endless.” We talked about it for a bit and decided to hold off on the beard until I decided where I wanted to go with it. I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about research before and how much I love it. Well, that’s just what I did. I went and researched facial hair.
     I’ve always hated shaving. It irritates my skin, especially my neck. When you’re in a hot kitchen, the last thing you want is to have a neck rash with a stiff collar rubbing on it, so I rarely shaved, even my neck. I kept it trimmed with a small beard trimmer. But, as I said previously, I kept it trimmed super short. Now, I had the opportunity to do something different.

     I spent an entire day looking at photos, traditions and fashions of men who had beards. The possibilities were amazing. Men sure have been creative with their facial hair over the centuries, that’s for sure. I was actually excited about the prospect of having a new look!
     A look…
     Now, a beard can be very hot, especially in the south. I was still living in Atlanta, and the weather there can be miserable during the summer months. Hot and sticky. That’s the only way to describe it. I took that into account when I came up with a style that I liked.

     I decided that I’d keep the beard short and do something creative with the mustache. What you see today is a combination of a Fu Manchu and a handlebar mustache, with a very short beard.

     Here we go…
     I got out my scissors, trimmers, laid down a towel and looked into the mirror. With La Boehme blaring in the background, I started. The trimmers buzzed. The scissors snipped and about an hour later, I had it. It took another three hours trying to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted. Total fail.
     Squaring my shoulders, I took a shower, got dressed and went to see Tracey. No appointment, which was risky. He was always booked solid. Luckily, he’d had a no-show and ushered me right in. He listened to my tale of woe and then taught me what I needed to know to achieve the final look I was going for. Trust me when I say, it wasn’t easy at first. So much product goes into this look.
     To be honest, I don’t use all that stuff anymore. I’m basically lazy when it comes to my appearance. Normally I just throw on a pair of jeans or shorts, a T-shirt and go. Or that was what I used to do. Now, there’s a process. A little glue, a little wax, a minute with the blow dryer and I’m good to go. In the beginning, it took a lot longer. When I became more confident, it took me a lot less time. I’ve got this down to a science now. I can get this thing whipped into shape in a matter of minutes.

     A side note…
     It was during this time that I also was being pushed into writing. I’ve talked about it before, and I’m sure y’all are tired of hearing about it, so I’ll skip all that.
     The event…
     I was able to shed about ten pounds, so I was able to button up that Chefs Coat, comfortably. I had my new look and I was feeling good for the first time in ages. I’d just had my first short story accepted into an anthology, which was a total shock. Can you believe it? Someone actually gave me money for a story. It was only twenty-five dollars, but hey, it was real money!
     Off I went to the charity event, feeling good. The beard was a hit! All of my former colleagues thought it looked great. I think a few were jealous, if I am to be honest. The evening was a huge success. A lot of money was raised for children’s education and I was on cloud nine.

     It has been a rough year, but I’d managed to come through it with a new career and a new look. I think that the beard and mustache has become part of my brand, or that’s what I’ve been told. It sure wasn’t my intention, but there it is.
     Another side note…
     Yeah, it isn’t always pretty. There have been mornings when I wake up and look in the mirror. Oh hell, it is amazing what this hair on my face looks like sometimes. One morning in particular, I looked at my reflection and wondered if my beard hadn’t gone out and partied while I was asleep. One side was sticking straight out in front of my face, while the other side was plastered against my check, glued down by drool. Yeah… so unattractive. It’s a good thing I sleep alone. That look would have scared Freddie Krueger!

     And again…
     Did you do something nice for someone this past week? I bet you have. Just think of all those wonderful Karma Coins you’ve accumulated. Great feeling isn’t it? Here it is… a new week and all kinds of possibilities to do something wonderful for someone else.
     Have a grrreat week, y’all,


  1. You make me laugh so hard and sometimes cry, both your posts and your fabulous books. I love facial hair and anybody with unique ideas on their looks. I would never touch someone's face without permission even though I'm a toucher.
    Thank you for sharing the story of your life change and rediscovery. Thank you for being you.

  2. You make me laugh so hard and sometimes cry, both your posts and your fabulous books. I love facial hair and anybody with unique ideas on their looks. I would never touch someone's face without permission even though I'm a toucher.
    Thank you for sharing the story of your life change and rediscovery. Thank you for being you.