For a long time now, you’ve been my best friend and ally in the war I wage with the insecurity I feel whenever I’m faced (quite literally) with my own reflection. Whilst my face has the potential to be an ugly, terrifying thing which conjures up hitherto-unfelt pangs of maudlin regret amongst children, and reminds the elderly of the friends they left behind in the war, a beard is a beard, much alike any other beard you might care to see. It’s most likely not attractive, but neither is it ugly. It is simply there, in a state of perpetual…beard.
You’ve been there, my hairy shield against the world, for nigh on ten years, a staunch friend and supporter, making sure I don’t have to worry about the grim visage I’m presenting to the people of the Earth. All they see is you. The beard. Perhaps my face is attractive and perhaps it is not; it’s not something I’ve ever had to worry about – and I loved you for that.
Not only have you protected me from unwelcome facial-judgement, you’ve also made the possibility of committing a series of minor felonies a tantalizing reality, with the sure notion that witnesses would simply remember me as ‘that guy with the big bushy blonde beard’ which I could shave before fleeing to Canada.
But now, you traitor, (Brutus, I dub thee) you’ve decided to start turning red. I call it red only because I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘ginger’. In a world which will no longer let us make jokes about the Jews (I’m kidding, I make Jew jokes all the time) redheads are one of the few avenues of callous humor left available to us who are so inclined. But you’re taking me one step further than red haired. People aren’t going to call me anything so harmless as ‘Carrot Top’ – they’re going to call me Carrot face. Carrot. Face. As if I had root vegetables actually on my face. Do you know how awful that is? I don’t even fucking like carrots.
And whilst ‘flame-haired’ is the beautiful heroine riding bareback along the beach, fiery locks streaming behind her in magnificent luminescence under the wavering moonlight (or something), I’ll be flame face. That’s the name of someone destined to be put in prison by Batman.
Now I don’t know why you’ve chosen to betray me in such startling fashion after all these years of living in friendly harmony, me the rhino and you the tiny little bird on my back. Perhaps I wronged you in some way, did not stroke you often enough whilst trying to project the outward appearance of wisdom, but know this: I can change. I will change, if that’s what you need from me. Our symbiotic relationship was once a perfect example of nature’s infinite wisdom; but now I’m forced to come to you with a stark and sterling ultimatum. Steady this course upon which you’ve started, return to your previous, pleasing shade of Thorish blonde and we shall hear no more about it.
But continue along the path upon which you have so callously committed us? And I shall shave you. It will bring me no pleasure, but I shall shave you off and shan’t grow you again until you’ve faded to the grey of middle aged wisdom, when I’ll get a big stick and call myself Gandalf to nervous people I pass in the street.
Extreme perhaps, but the fact remains that rather than protect me from my seemingly bottomless well of insecurity, (which you’ve done such a good job of for so long) you’ve now become the focus of yet another. Since I can’t afford the sort of therapy which I’d need to fix this shit (and secretly harbor the fear that a therapist would reveal all sorts of other heinous insufficiencies about my character which I’ve hidden in a box so deep inside my brain that it’s probably developing its own fledgling personality complete with insecurities – that’s right, my crazy has its own crazy) you’re all I’ve got.
Take a look, for one moment, at my (I suppose our) girlfriend. We’ve always known that she’s prettier than us, but she’s also smarter, braver and harder-working. If I don’t have you distracting her from the fact that I’m probably sort of funny looking, what will I have left to impress her with? The bedroom of my apartment is so squalid that it doesn’t have windows and I don’t really know how a smartphone works. I think that putting a few rocket leaves on my pizza makes me cultured. I have four in the morning panic attacks about whether or not I have any clementines left. If you go, then she might go and I couldn’t stand that because I’d quite like to marry her one day.
The truth is, most of all, I’ve grown attached to you after all these years of brotherhood. You offer me a curtain behind which I can hide from the world and I offer you shampoo and your very own special little comb.
Do not make me break that comb in half. A part of my heart would break with it.
Yours, with love and regret