But yeah, I grew out my facial hair the summer between sophomore and junior year in college and when I got back to campus in the fall there was nearly unanimous acclamation that it was the correct look for me, not just one viable option but really the only, inevitable choice. It was nice, as I was about to turn 20, to have something distract from my chubby apple cheeks so that I no longer looked approximately 12. When I graduated, some of my friends who held the decidedly minority viewpoint that I looked better clean-shaven (they were of course all girls) persuaded me to scrape off the vandyke, but it came back soon enough and has been a more or less permanent fixture ever since. People still in my life now who have ever known me not to have this look are few and far between.
My dad had a mustache from some time in college until I was about 13 or so, and then he shaved it off and never went back. This may or may not have had something to do with the birth of my Very Little Bro, and/or an incipient mid-life crisis as dad hit his late 30’s. Whatever precipitated it, my dad got so many “You look great, so much younger!” responses that the never-going-back was a no-brainer for him. His childhood best friend, who had also had a mustache for about as long (and who is, just to keep your dramatis personae straight, the commissioner of the NFL Pickem Pool I am muddling my way through once again) was inspired by my father’s rejuvenation to shave his own mustache, but quickly grew it back due to a major miscalculation: his own wife had never seen him without his mustache before, decided she didn’t like him without it, and literally wouldn’t speak to him until he regrew it. She convinced their two sons to get on her side, too. Poor guy never had a chance.
My brothers are both much fairer than I am and although they’ve both experimented with facial hair growth I don’t think either of them has ever gotten past the still-letting-it-grow-out phase before going back to smooth cheeks. Very Little Bro is in fact going through that phase right now (or was, as of three weeks ago when last I saw him), and admitted that ever since he took a job promotion to a managerial position that he’s been trying anything he can think of to look older, and thus right for the role. I wished him luck on all counts.
At that same family wedding get-together, one of the first things my Little Bro said to me when he arrived was that my hair was getting long. He meant on top of my head, not on my chin (I think), though he probably was right on both counts. I still thought this was odd, however, because while my hair might be a bit messy right now it’s certainly on the short side of the spectrum if you consider the varying lengths I’ve worn it at over the years. And again, sometimes I feel kind of old realizing that many of the people who know me now never knew me during those college years when I never cut my hair and it touched my shoulders. These would be the same people who look at me, with my responsible adult professional haircut, and look at my wife, who employs not insignificant effort to tame her own mane, and look at our daughter’s adorably age-appropriate golden ringlets and ask us “Where does she get her curly hair from?” The answer is “both of her parents” though as self-evident as that seems to us, it’s hardly obvious from what we present to the world.
BUT! My Little Bro certainly is on the shortlist of people who knew me well enough when I had the hippie-Jesus look working, which is why I found it so disconcerting for him to deem my trim-needing coif “long”. If so much time has passed since I was a long-hair that my own siblings are kind of starting to forget about it, I really am getting old.