on his annual tradition of growing a summer beard.
Over this holiday period you may have seen them. They are appearing in streets and some homes; they are on the beaches. If you go into an inner-city cafe, they frolic and grow and graze. You may now find one has nested in your home. Under your very nose. Well, maybe not your nose. Maybe your husband’s. The holiday beard. It’s like Santa set the bar with his luxurious face-mane. Taunting us with his laugh and the promise of no more work after December 24. So, every year, men around Australia who have a couple of weeks off decide, “Well, time to pop the razor away for awhile and see how my beard is going.”
I know, because I am one such man.
My wife knows it’s coming. . She says she quite likes it. And that first week is freeing. People look at you with a bit more, “Ooh, look at this bad boy.” As if not shaving means you’ve thumbed your stubble-surrounded nose at The Man. Grizzly Adams, here I come! This year I could be a frontiersman. Or a bushman. Wild, untamed, like this great country we live in. I walk, nay, I strut down the street with this fabulous three-day growth (I’m allowed to use this phrase). Every year, the same walk leading me on... on to disappointment. For as the New Year arrives and the return to work draws closer, so does the realisation that, while it starts out well, my beard never really gets there. Every summer I think it will get thicker after a year of shaving – I am 43 years old, you’d think I’d know this is never gonna happen. But it’s not a complete failure. It’s fullish, but never the full Hinch. It’s certainly not wispy like I’m in a hip, early 2000s, New York band. It’s got something, but not quite, you know, a full growth. Then the kids start to tire of it. Betty stops kissing me. Billy gets a slight rash on his face when I hug him, and Leo tells me flat out every night at bedtime, “Dad, you need to shave.” Rude. But I persist. It’s going to be better this year. I eat more crusts (I believe this is for chest hair, but I’ll try anything at this point) and start taking my coffee black from Rob, who’s crushing it with his wonderful ginger beard. I look in the mirror each morning for signs of extra manliness this year. Then I see it.
Grey. Flecks of it. Scattered all through it. In the sideburns, down two sides of my chin, on parts of my neck. I look up like Vader at the end of the bad Star Wars trilogy which none of us like to remember and scream, “NOOO!”
Should I clipper? Neaten it up? A goatee? Ethan Hawke is still cool, right? I mean he was in Reality Bites and that was massive. My moustache makes Movember laughable in my house and, unlike Shannon Noll, the soul patch contains only a few strands and three of them are white! At this rate I can only hope for a half-arsed attempt at Clooney in Syriana, and no one liked his beard in that movie.
I look back at the shrinking man in the mirror and realise it has defeated me again. My MACH3 (not sponsored) starts to laugh on my bathroom counter. It knows the time has arrived.
Fine. Beards are out anyway. Nearly all the blogs I choose to read tell me so. Besides, if I shave all year it’ll be thicker come December. Right?
My beard never really gets there… It’s fullish, but never the full Hinch”