Yeah, growing Oliver for a full year is cool. That’s obvious. And frankly, writing a blog about it was a freaking stroke of genius. But, let’s not talk about the Yeard. I know what you all REALLY want to know.
Why did I start wearing a beard in the first place?
Well, the obvious answer is that I have a deep and abiding love of Barry Gibb from the BeeGees.
But besides iconic 70’s disco stars, did have a number of bearded male role models? I’m sure my dad wore a beard at some point, but I have no real recollections of it. My grandfather was also a clean-shaven man. While I generally disappove of this, I feel that the manliness of my grandfather was never in question. I remember him as being all man.
My uncle John wore a handsome, thick beard for many years. But he’s also a giant of a man. My uncle Mark went through phases of beard wearing, but it was pretty much white. I’m fairly certain that his hair went white about age 12.
My aunt Carmen wore a nice face pelt.** I’m not sure if she started growing it to be in the carnival or joined the carnival because she grew it, (chicken or the egg situation, there) but I know that it worked out as a profitable career no matter what the origins.
No, I’m afraid that my beard growth can basically be tracked back to one man: Mr. Henrich. He was my social studies teacher in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I don’t know specifically when my hero worship of him started, but I don’t believe it ever really ended.
He played chess in class…so I joined the chess team. He had debates in class… so I joined the debate team. He was the tennis coach… so I joined the tennis team. He was a lover of baseball and inane trivia… ok, I already loved those before I met him, but he certainly encouraged them. He taught social studies… I studied history and political science.
Now, I could write a truly gushing and embarassing retrospective about this man, but I won’t. The kind you write to nominate teachers for national awards. “He is an inspiration to both his students and to the art of teaching…” blah blah blah. Let’s just leave it at this, and then move on to the beard stuff: He was my favorite teacher ever and he made all things in his classes more interesting than they might otherwise have been.
Mr. Henrich didn’t wear a beard all the time. He may not have even worn a beard most of the time. But the image I haul up in my head of him is with a short, nearly black beard. Not just a goattee (though I believe he, like most of us at some point or another, succumbed to that look as well) but a true beard. And because he was sort of the be-all, end-all of cool in my book, beards became cool.
I’m not saying that Mr. Henrich was the only reason I grew a beard. There are hundreds of reasons to wear a beard. I mean, shoot, beards are cool. Exhibit A:
But Mr. Henrich was just another of the reasons that Oliver and I are together. (Oliver, being my beard… I figured I’d better mention that every now and again or people will assume that I am engaged in a relationship with someone other than Natalie Portman.)
So, Mr. Henrich, if you’re reading this, today’s beard is for you.
**I do not now, nor have I ever, had an Aunt Carmen. Though if there are any Carmen’s out there with a nice beard, don’t think I’m hatin’. We gotta stick together.
*ALSO… Tomorrow is Day 73… and that is exaclty 20% of 365. Hot Dog! Just muliply my current beard times 5 and you’ll know. Grow Oliver, Grow!