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Erik Davis

May 27, 2011


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Full and By - Sailing Large

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Were you on pitch? Did you match me?

Blizzard 2011, Destroyer of Beards

walton beard

"I had the only beard in the Western Hemisphere that made Bob Dylan's look good." (Bill Walton UCLA and NBA star)

Have you ever made a bad decision?  I don’t mean like smoking, driving drunk, and all those other decisions that are just always bad.  I mean a decision that, at first, is only a small, unimportant decision.   Then, all of the sudden, because of something totally unanticipated- an unforeseen circumstance- your innocent, meaningless decision has snowballed, no avalanched, into a monster of a bad idea.  It happens, it could happen to anyone, but in Monmouth's Blizzard 2011 it happened to me.

I made a simple, clean-cut decision, a decision I would later realize was actually a most fateful, tragic decision.  I decided to trim my beard, and I know what you are thinking, why, oh why, would you trim such a glorious, harmonious, and majestical facial affectation?  Well, you do this because at some point the nagging of your grandmother becomes too much for you to bear and you simply have to do something to appease her.

Monmouth IL

YouTube video snow in Monmouth

This story starts on a Tuesday night, a dark and stormy Tuesday night.  Only one word is needed to describe this particular night- thundersnow.  It dumped over a foot of snow in one night and all the while thunder and lightening accompanied it.  I was certain the rapture had arrived, and I had been left behind.  I wasn’t overly surprised by this.  I have had a sneaking suspicion I wouldn’t be accompanying Jesus to paradise ever since the 7th grade, when I discovered that missing cinderblock allowing the heating pipes to pass from the girls’ locker room to the boys. However that is an entirely different story.1  For this story, it was a dark and stormy night, which is fitting as this is a tragic tale.

After having been trapped inside for so long due to snow you start to think crazy things.  Maybe its time to do the dishes, hang up all the clothes, or trim your beard.  I walk into the bathroom and saw my beard trimmer, WAHL printed along the handle, worn with age and use.  It lies innocently on the back of the toilet.  I turned it on, instead of the normal rapid, electric whir, I hear a slow, guttering series of clicks.  It is here, dear reader, I make my first fatal error.

I realize something is wrong with my trimmer the moment I turned it on.  Normally upon flipping the switch I am greeted with a metallic whirring.  This time I hear a slow, steady click-click-click-click.  We have been through thick and thin together, my beard trimmer and I, I assume it will make it this one last time.  Well you know what they say about assuming.  I trimmed half my beard and then the worst happened.  My trimmer passed on into the great abyss.  Even though the spirit of my trimmer had departed its physical presence was still very much intact- and cleaved to the side of my face.

monkeytail beard

Infamous Monkey Tail Beard

After a brief, but intensely painful effort, I was able to extricate the razor from my mangled beard.  I assumed it had run out of batteries.  I plugged it back in.  I thought it funny it still showed it was charged.  I toggled the switch. Nothing happened. I cleaned the blade; still nothing.  As I gazed at my muddled, disheveled reflection in the mirror a sense of horror spread through my body.  My beard, oh that glorious facial affectation which added dignity to every occasion, reduced to a mere shadow of its former grandeur!  I had to do something.  I fought down a rising sense of panic.  If I applied my mind I could reason a way out of this.  There had to be some other tool at my disposal with which I could finish this now all important task.

My mind raced through different options.  In a moment of clarity my mind came to rest on a strikingly simple solution; I could just trim it the old fashioned way.  Oh to have a straight razor!  I fantasized about shaving like the great sea captains of a past age.  I imagined myself emerging from my apartment my newly shorn face, pink, gleaming in the sunlight.  Women stopping me on the street to compliment me on my boyish good looks.   I cursed myself for not having invested in a straight razor.  I put that train of thought aside for the time being, and eventually settled on scissors the best option I had available to me.  But which scissors?


Sweeney Todd ( Monmouth once had a barber shop called Sweeney's Clip Joint)

This was a daunting decision.  I could use my kitchen sheers, but then I would never be able to bring myself to cook with them again.  The only option left were the pair of scissors I took with me to the fourth grade.  The blades were still liberally coated in Elmer’s glue.  I worked the hinge back and forth.  I deemed them passable.  After all I felt them the only option left.  My hand shaking I brought them to my face.  Snip!  A tiny, miniscule portion of beard floated aimlessly down into the sink.  This time with more confidence; snip!  Another measly amount of beard.  It would take hours, but I had found a solution.  Hurrying now to end this ridiculous charade I began snipping, no hacking, at my beard with my fourth grade scissors.  In my haste I almost cut a chunk out of my cheek.  I paused, scissors poised to lacerate my cheek, and realized just in the knick of time this plan was insane.  I could not spend the next three hours snipping away at my beard.  Even if I spent the time, I stood a fair chance of leaving my cheek with a permanent divot.  Either way, my beard looked awful.  At this point half my beard was neatly trimmed, while the other looked like it had been assaulted by a maniac with a hedge clipper.

I abandoned the plan.  There was another way.  Perhaps I could just go buy a beard trimmer.  Yes! Now there, finally, was a practicable idea.  I would just go to a store and buy a new beard trimmer.  I imagined the look on the cashiers face as I stumble through the door, covered in snow, a slight trail of snot running from my nose, beard mangled, mottled patches of dried shaving cream, a crazed gleam in my eyes.  I imagined shouting hoarsely at the poor, frightened drug store worker, “I need a new beard trimmer!”  The startled cashier cowers behind the counter- openly weeping.  She reaches behind her, takes the first beard trimmer she can reach and hurls it towards me.  As it hurtles through the air towards my face I remember how uncoordinated I am.  My arms splay awkwardly in an attempt to catch the trimmer, but sadly all to no avail.  The trimmer strikes me on the temple, and I crumple to the ground only to awaken in the Warren County jail charged with attempted assault.

I almost immediately settled on a new idea.  What if I wore a balaclava?  Then my face would be obscured, the drug store worker would not attack me, perfect!  It did not take me long to figure out that was a bad idea. Finally able to pull myself from my adrenaline-fueled imaginings, I abandoned the idea of going to the drug store myself.

I would have to resort to my last option.  I picked up my savior, my cell phone, called my friend, and she, trekking through a foot of snow, drove to get my new beard trimmer.  As she crossed the threshold to my apartment relief welled up inside me.  I couldn’t believe my ordeal was over.  I took the trimmer out of its packaging, ripping through the wrapping, and flipped the switch.  Nothing.  I would have to charge it for a minimum of three hours…


Next story: how my new beardless face made me more popular than a Panda at the zoo.

1 Cinder block joke not actually based on a factual event.

Erik sans beard

Erik during short interval of beardlessness.