Over the past few months, I had chosen to skip on shaving. I had few different reasons to begin with and picked up some along the way. So I had wanted to share a few visceral reactions from good friends and family for starters.
1. “Shave that off now!”
2. “You look like a terrorist.”
3. “You look dirty.”
4. “Trying to look younger?”
Recalling those laughs, I had wondered, “What do people think that don’t know me?” Then I had remembered a couple of memories in high school, after 911 and recent travels.
In high school, I had a good friend from the neighborhood with shoulder length hair. The guy was musically gifted and decently smart; however, by his selection of denim wear and longer locks, he had received a bit of social shunning. For almost a year, I had emulated him letting the follicles flow. Unsurprisely, it had gone over like a thud with military folks but, my girlfriend didn’t mind. Oddly enough, my mother had also enjoyed this expression of extra “curls.” Living close to Mayport Naval Station, I had rationalized the negative response in the context of being a Navy brat. The hair had proved my point about appearance and perception. Right before graduation, I had gone for a refreshing buzz-cut. This illuminating experience had contrasted greatly with the next.
After 911, I had travelled to FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium for a college football game. I had followed two other friends in the gates. At a security checkpoint, my friends had whisked by an officer. Reaching the threshold of his checkpoint, he had stopped me immediately for pat and scan. On one hand, I had understood the act. On the other, a smart “terrorist” could have selected a bomb mule, by cohersion or subversion, of people without my darker physical attributes (i.e. skin, hair, etc). Returning back to central Florida, I had received a similar visual review but, logical considering recent events.
The third experience had come recently from a visit to DeLeon Springs State park. Coming out of the water, I had started up the concrete sidewalk. Putting on my sunglasses, I had noticed a few people in my peripheral vision looking at me with disgust. I hadn’t really said or done a whole lot there. Somewhere between the shades and facial hair, it had invoked a negative response. This time it had bothered my psyche. Don’t these folks know I had loved these public lands, let alone the United States. Whatever the reason, I had felt slighted by their collective gaze. I had thought of the quote,”the eyes are the window to the soul.” If playing a joke based off appearance, it had landed squarely on my shoulders. So, I had left somewhere between angst and empathy. The facial hair had served a purpose beyond some of the original intent.
Here were some of the reasons for it:
A. Cuts down on time and money.
B. Grow longest lengthwise lifetime.
D. Get an emotional rise out of people who don’t know me.
E. Friend made a suggestion for team bearding.
F. See how much gray hair in facial hair.
G. Symbolic of another physical goal, I’ll share in another post.
H. Symbolic of another personal goal, that I won’t share in a post.
For today, the facial growth had meant a symbol of my individuality, much like a snake skin jacket from the movie Wild At Heart. Wild Heart just had happened to be one of my favorite movies of all time!