Hey, hipster, Moses called — he wants his beard back 9

Let’s get this straight right off the bat – I’m an old white dude and therefore completely clue free.

I have no idea who the most popular musicians are today (although a young friend informs me it’s not the Beatles and has not been for quite some time). Popular movie stars? Not only have I never seen their work, I have probably never even heard their names. And when it comes to fashion, I just found out that jeans shorts are about as hip as Hush Puppies.

Clearly, my unhip old-dude bona fides are rock solid. But even so, I am completely mystified by the sudden sprouting of Serious Facial Hair on men (mainly).

I’m not talking about the goatee, which seems to come and go – sort of like a cold sore, only not as attractive. Nor am I talking about the ubiquitous “soul patch” (aka “jazz dot”) —  that little spot of fur appended to the lower lip that has long been the choice of uber-cool black dudes and uber-lame white dudes (like me).

I’m talking about the full-grown facial forest that makes your average 20-something graphic designer / social media maven look like Jeremiah Johnson, come down from his mountain to stock up on coffee, beans, and maybe some new grips for his totally sweet single-speed fixie.

When I was a young dude, lots of guys – myself included – wore beards. But my beard never looked like the hair bibs I see around town. I have photos (OK, so they’re actually daguerreotypes) of myself in my 20s and I look like Che Guevara with some sort of skin disease. Seriously – compared to my bearded mug, Johnny Depp looks like Methuselah.

But Today’s Beard is a totally different phenomenon. I kid you not; walk around Austin for a weekend and you’d think you’d stumbled into an Old Testament prophets convention – that is, if Old Testament prophets wore skin-tight jeans and Sailor Jerry tattoos, and drank Pabst Blue Ribbon.

This caveman beard thing has been around for a while, but it now has a challenger in the Most Affected Facial Hair competition – muttonchop sideburns.

Although a newcomer to the field, the muttonchop is giving the Hasidic look a run for its money. Honestly, Austin alone has enough Stonewall Jackson look-alikes to make 10 Ken Burns movies. The town looks like one giant Neil Young look-alike contest.

One thing I do understand about Serious Facial Hair – it sends a strong message. It tells the world, “I am not a conformist”; it says, “I do not subscribe to society’s petty rules about how a man should look;” it shouts, “I don’t care if I ever get laid again.”

OK, on second thought, I was right the first time — I don’t get the facial hair thing.

The unkindest cut is sometimes self-inflicted 17

If you’ve ever cleared brush, you know that getting rid of the shrubby stuff makes even the smallest tree look bigger. And while this may be good land management, it does not necessarily translate to smart personal grooming.

I bring this up because for Christmas I got one of those male grooming appliances. It’s kind of like an electric razor, only smaller. It’s designed so men can keep themselves at their metrosexual sleekest. It can be used to trim moustaches, beards, sideburns, etc., (none of which I have). The instructions state it can also be used to manage the man forest.  Well, now …

One thing the instructions do not tell you is that, used incorrectly (and FYI, this is painfully easy to do) it is also capable of removing several layers of skin. Skin that is very delicate, very sensitive and very rich with blood vessels. And you know how, when you cut your finger, your first reaction is to stick the wounded appendage in your mouth? Not an option here. And not only is that not going to work, just trying will very likely add back strain to your litany of embarrassing injuries. “Well, doc, you’re not gonna believe this …”

Normally, I would not dream of using such an appliance; it gives off too much of a George Michael kind of vibe. But if English footballer and unassailably hetero stud David Beckham can go on record as having the smoothest Adidas in the Premier League, then who am I to quibble? Frighteningly, I came closer to resembling Lance Armstrong than I did Mr. Posh Spice.

Read the directions, hopped in the shower as suggested and lathered up. If I may use an even clumsier sports metaphor here, let me say that my intent was merely to tidy up the green a bit; accordingly, I very gingerly took hold of the pin to move it out of the way so I could see better, fired up the groomer, and immediately took out a huge, fleshy divot.

Did I mention that I hoped to surprise my wife? Well, it worked. Of course, no one expects to see a band-aid where I had applied one (Note: the only bandages we had in the house were the Hello Kitty models left here by our 5-year old niece).  And pleasant? Well, judging from her peals of laughter, I would judge that it was not altogether traumatic for her.

Like self-inflicted injuries often do, this one made me feel both hurt and stupid. But the unkindest cut (well, perhaps the second) came from the AM/PM medic, who asked if he should stop the bleeding but try to maintain the swelling.