Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

That Time I Grew a Beard in a Day

Before my beard turned white, it was very dark -- notably darker than my hair, particularly when I was younger and my hair was a lighter brown. This meant that the slightest stubble was visible as shadow. During my twenties, when my beard came and went on a regular basis, I took advantage of this fact. I would shape the stubble into a beard and the resulting shadow gave the appearance of my being bearded in a matter of days.

Even in high school, when my beard was still filling in, this beard-shadow illusion was in effect. That was in part because I continued to shave every other day long after the point where I should have moved to daily. Some friends used to tease me about always having a five-o-clock shadow, even at ten in the morning.

In late spring of my senior year I planned a sort of joke. In advance of a four-day weekend, I didn't shave for three or four days. This was more than standard, but not enough for people to notice much of a difference from my usual casual approach to being clean-shaven. After the four days off I shaped my facial hair into a beard and headed off to school.

Here was the illusion: On the previous school day, which is "just yesterday" in high school time sense, I had not been bearded, or at least not so that anybody noticed. Then on the next school day I had a definite visual illusion of a beard. A week's beard growth masqueraded as an overnight miracle. And I tell you, it worked.

I quite vividly remember the response of the other kids at the bus stop that morning, one of screaming astonishment. This continued all day, with people looking at me funny and asking how I could grow a beard in a day. Even one of my teachers commented on it. A fine high school joke. Ten and twenty years later people would occasionally mention that time I grew a beard in a day.

There's no equivalent in adult life.

Here's a blurry picture of me with that beard -- backstage at the senior year variety show, which would put this only a week or two later.

I didn't trim the beard for the rest of the school year, and into the summer, growing it longer than I've ever grown it since. By the time I started college in the fall I was a young Grizzly Adams. Here is my freshman ID (from before I transferred to Brown and found Home at Last). I am 17 in this picture. (I am also wearing one of my father's old folk trio shirts, the tan shirt with red dots, the "measles" shirt.)

Ah, youth. Four weeks later I was a skinny beardless boy with short hair parted on the side.
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