Each autumn as the leaves begin to fall from the trees and clutter the gutters, I start to grow a beard. I do this for entirely practical reasons. It gets cold here in the winter, and determined as I am, I still like to get out for my morning walks, despite that cold. (It is, as I write this, 24°F, unusually cold for late March). A beard helps to keep my face warm in that cold weather.
The same beard that keeps me warn in the winter, overheats me as the weather warms up. So each spring, I shave it off. As my birthday falls just a week or so after the first day of spring, I use my birthday as a reminder to shave. This year, for instance, I shaved off my beard the evening before my birthday, just before bed. Below, you can see the before and after shots.
Usually, after growing used to how I look with a beard, the kids immediately notice that the beard is gone, and tell me how weird I look without it. This year, however, no one said anything. The kids said nothing when I said good night to them. They made no mention of my missing beard when I returned from my morning walk. Instead, they ran up to me, circled around and wished me a happy birthday. Kelly said nothing. Kelly’s mom, who was visiting, said nothing. I had the feeling that no one noticed.
I asked myself: If I shave off my beard and no one notices, does it still exist?
Perhaps, I thought, they were so used to seeing me with a beard that despite having shaved it off, they still “saw” it, a phantom beard created from their imaginations. I shrugged and figured that someone would finally realize I’d shaved off my beard and say something.
I write this approximately 60 hours after shaving off my beard, and so far, so one has said anything. This seems strange to me, and now I wonder if perhaps they all have noticed, but realize that it is past the courteous time to mention it. If they say something now, they admit to not having noticed for several days–or least, not having mentioned it for several days.
It has me wondering what other things I could change and no one would notice. Could I dye my hair? Wear lifts in my shoes?
I don’t really mind that no one noticed that I shaved off my beard. I just find the lack of any mention interesting. There is, however, one problem I have encountered recently shaving off my beard. You see, ever since I did it, we’ve been in a cold snap, with morning temperatures in the low 20°s, and strong, cold winds blowing constantly. It means that on my morning walks, my face, no longer protected by a beard, gets very cold.
Fortunately, it is finally supposed to warm up later in the week.
ETA: April 13, 2022 @ 8:40pm. Eighteen days later and still no one has said anything about my missing beard.
Written on March 29, 2022.
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