Thursday, March 24, 2005


On a whim, as I was shaving last Sunday for the first time in a week, I omitted to do my upper lip and chin. There was no good or even recognisable reason for this. I just thought, well, hey, let's see how it looks.

So far the reaction has been 100% positive... if we don't include me. My friends like it, and the secretaries at work approve, but I'm not very happy with it. Fifteen years ago, when goatees were hip, then I would have been impressed with myself. Ten years ago, when every second footballer had one, I knew that the look was over in terms of cool. Now we're at the goatee's very nadir, when it is the face-fur of choice for middle-aged suburban males who are attempting to look rakish, or fat bald men trying to draw attention away from their scalps and double chins. I'm not cool enough to sport one as an ironic, anti-style comment, so I might just have to shave it off and wait a few years.

I've never had much luck with hair. My hair is very fine, very straight and until the last year or so, very oily. It's a brown so mousey it's almost not a colour at all. I have a double crown, which tends to make the hair in that area sit bolt upright like a vigilant meercat. And as I age and lose what mediocre hair I have, it's retreating in the least cool manner possible. Cool baldness creeps in at the temples, leaving a little peninsula of hair in the centre, which actually doesn't look all that bad. Uncool baldness marches back in a straight line, as if your entire stock of hair is migrating backwards towards the nape of your neck, like a knob of butter sliding off a hot pancake.

Cool blokes can compensate for retreating hairlines by growing sideburns (although not those overextended ones that finish in a stiletto-like point - they're a little too rockabilly for their own good). And, of course, I can't do that. I have little bald patches right in the middle of where my sideburns would go. I tried to grow them once, and it looked like someone had stuck a couple of hirsute ten cent coins to the sides of my jaw.

I should just give up. From a genetic perspective, I was destined to be a peasant - low, broad and durable, without any fancy features, using solid stamina to achieve required ends rather than grace or finesse. It's not my genes' fault that I ended up with a taste for nice suits and abstract art, working in an office in a safe, tidy city, where the ability to knot a tie correctly is more important than being able to push a plough around a field for twelve hours.


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