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The Beard….

Summer is ending and the beard is about to go. So I figured what better time to explain why I did it then right before I cut it off (etd: 2 weeks from now).

Towards the end of the semester I was thinking of ways to make life interesting in a way that I could easily gauge, but also report. But I didn’t have any ideas.

Well the week before finals I was trimming my facial hair and I messed up. It wasn’t all that bad and I think all I would have had to do was thin one sideburn slightly, which is really easy and doesn’t take much skill. But instead of doing something that easy I just shaved it all off. No chin hair, no sideburns, no mustache, and no stubble.

I kept it like that for a couple of weeks and liked the look, but I thought, “hmm this is different, but its not completely out of the realm of the norm.” Okay. Maybe it didn’t go like that, but essentially that’s what I was thinking.

For those of you who didn’t know me pre-beard days—and even for those who don’t know me very well for that matter—I am really image conscious. Meaning I like to reflect keeping my upbringing by keeping a nice presentable appearance. Therefore, a beard of such magnitude is definitely off the wall.

Still, I wanted to do something different so I started to entertain the idea of the beard. My mom has been suggesting a beard for a long time to help reduce skin problems. Former flames have expressed that graduated sexiness could be achieved by a beard. And I kinda just wanted to be lazy and not go to the barbershop so frequently and deal with regular maintenance of neat facial hair.

Initially, I planned to let it go all summer and just see how it would look and how it would be received. However because of Unity ’08, a desire to look somewhat representative of my normal appearance, I trimmed it. Now that the beard lacks amazingness and the love is gone, I have been a little better about trimming the hedges if you will.

It got to be pretty long. Like before I left for Chicago I trimmed like an inch off… and enough hair remained for some high ranking journalism person to remember me as my uncles Muslim nephew, the guy from Philly, or Rick Ross.

And that brings me to the experimental part of this thing on my face. It mostly was to see how people I met would receive me, but quickly it became a study on how people I know changed their perceptions and actions towards me.

The older people like the ones I work with and see around campus said it made me look older and distinguished until it started getting out of control. After that the prevailing comment was “oh, hey. You still have the beard,” in a tone that said, it needs to go.

Peers all come up with nicknames and reference my beard to popular culture, hence the thought that I am from Philadelphia where black men rock beards, and the Rick Ross statements. A few Muslim friends were working on a Muslim name for me, which I think is funny considering so many people think I am a Muslim. (Barack isn’t the only one, but I say if I were, who cares!) One friend even offered to take me to, and pay for a haircut and a shave …hilarious.

My favorite reaction was from the little baby. Loren is that four-year-old little girl my mom keeps that will wow you with her brilliance and then shame you with her terrible ways. She saw me for the first time since February and the first thing she did was touch the beard and then as me about my “shave”. Kids are so cute.

My little brother Kamron picked me up from the airport and his first reaction was to say how I looked like a black Osama Bin Laden and ask how I passed through airport security. Original. Very creative, Kamron. If I had a dollar…

Anyways, I have been receiving so much feedback and am being perceived totally different and completely the same as well. When I go out, girls are much friendlier and open to approaching me, and I think that’s because girls like dirty guys, something I generally am not. But I also have been out and seen people I haven’t seen in literal years that still recognize me and didn’t even say anything about it.

It definitely has been an interesting experience and I must say I am glad I did it.

All that said—I really grew the beard because I want a goatee really badly. I have wanted one for years. The goatee is like the coolest form of facial hair ever. Unfortunately, the hair around my mouth on my cheeks doesn’t grow too well. So I figured if I let it grow wildly it my catch up with the rest of the hair.

The strategy somewhat worked and a few new follicles have emerged, but still ain’t where I want it. Oh well, maybe next time.

It’s kind of funny though, because people buy all my BS reasons for growing the beard: it’s a social experiment I am rebelling against that which I normally do, and so on and so on.

I really have tricked you all into thinking I am THAT thought out, conscious, and aware. LOL


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