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2006-02-10Pete Writes: Beardy weirdies

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You're the man. On entering a room you're greeted by the soft sound of turning heads and dropping jaws. Every female you meet grows instantly moist when faced with your masculine charm, every man is made to realise just how pathetic his DNA is when compared to your mighty semen. You can run the fastest, pee the highest, kill a fully grown moose with the potency of your musk. You're the Big Cheese, le Grande Fromage, an alpha male of the highest order. Why? Because you shave with Gillette razors.

OK. We believe you, thousands wouldn't. Let's put on our bullshit-filtering glasses (like the ones Roddy Piper wears in They Live. If you haven't seen it go do so this instant. I'll still be here when you've finished. Go, monkey boy!) and try that again, shall we?  

It's 7:30AM. You're in your piss-stinking bathroom with a pounding headache that you've got because you stayed up late drinking Ouzo, even though you knew it was a school night. In an hour or so you'll be blinking in the working daylight, eating a doughnut and idly imagining what it would be like to be a Green Lantern when you should be getting down to some hard graft. But first you have to scrape the hair off your face, a task you'll be performing using a razor so blunt that it'd be less painful to have them plucked out individually by a man with a pair of tweezers who had, for his own oblique reasons, taken a personal dislike to you and your face. After you've sliced yourself to ribbons you'll develop a painful red rash that will last all day, thus ensuring that if the hot Greek girl who works in the office upstairs does notice you it'll only be so that she can speculate as to which disfiguring skin complaint you're suffering from and whether it constitutes a public health hazard. Why? Because you are, both literally and figuratively, made of poo.

As it happens I've stopped shaving recently because of the weather. That's the official line, at least. It has been very cold, and a bit of face fuzz is good protection from the elements, as is readily demonstrated in the movie The Thing. Interestingly (well, slightly interestingly) if you mention The Thing to someone the very first thing they will think is: beards, and lots of 'em. But if you actually go through the cast you'll find that not many of them have facial hair, and it's pretty restrained on the ones that do. The beard that everyone is thinking of is the one hanging off Kurt Russell, which is so voluminous that it actually distorts people's memory of the movie. In the director's cut it even delivers a short monologue outlining Kant's epistemology of Transcendental Idealism and its relevance to the movie (not a lot). A fitting testament, I feel, to a mighty — although probably fake — beard. When I mentioned to Fraisia about my own chin growth she said it would be a good idea if we all grew beards, which gave rise to some interesting mental images. With three bearded ladies, Anthony's troubling genetic peculiarities and my willingness — eagerness, even — to bite the heads off chickens we could have had a fairly serviceable Freak Tent in the offing. All we'd need would be some foetuses in jars to create a bit of atmosphere and we'd be away. I'm sure you can pick them up on eBay.

(I've just checked eBay and squirrel foetuses are currently going for around $10.50. Truly we are living in some sort of consumerist paradise, if not an animal lover's.)

But I was talking about shaving. The truth about my current hairiness is that I just can't face it. I'd be quite happy if I never had to shave again. As it is, I still feel that I'd look stupid with a beard; one thing about having a copiously bearded father is that you have to be capable of growing a pretty serious crop of face fuzz before you're allowed to get away with it. Plus I'm just too damn good looking to go spoiling my lovely mug with all that hair. And it itches, itches like a son of a bitch. But razors are a bit like tampons, or bog roll; people have to buy them, so the notion that they should be advertised at all is stupid and the fact that the ads are weapons-grade manipulative bullshit is intensely angry-making, at least to me. Of course, this isn't the first time that the advertising industry has painted an overly glossy picture in an effort to get us to buy their crap. They do it all the time. But shaving adverts get my goat more efficiently than any other. They take my goat, who's called Larry, and they tie him to a motorbike and then drag him around for a bit before eating him and spitting lumps of him back into my weeping, goat-deprived face. "Larry! No!" I cry, but they will not relent. Because they're shits.

Shaving ads are so far removed from the actual experience of shaving that they're nudging the borders of parody. I personally would respond better to an ad campaign that ran along the lines of "Shaving. We know it's a pain in the arse, you know it's a pain in the arse. Buy our razors and we'll say no more about it." All I'm asking for is a bit of camaraderie and fellow feeling; instead we get belittlement and degradation. No sensible adult human will believe that a razor will turn them into David Beckham or James Bond because that's ludicrous. But they might believe, at least subconsciously, that not buying said razor will completely remove the possibility that they might ever reach those dizzy alpha male heights. So that'll be £10 for five razors, you grotty little peon. Incidentally, the camaraderie school of advertising might work well on another group of people, namely new parents. I cannot for the life of me fathom why ad companies persist in pitching nappy adverts at the children rather than the adults. It's all shots of spotlessly clean toddlers frolicking with cartoon frogs, with some sort of cute ickle baby voice doing the talking. A two-year old has no control over what brand of nappies they wear. You're not selling to them, you're selling to dear old mum and dad, who haven't slept in three months and who junked their assumptions about the miracle of parenthood when they realised that they'd spawned a crying, vomiting, crapping nightmare. "Pampers. Because your child is nothing more than an egomaniacal shite geyser." Or: "You're about one ear-piercing bawl away from picking the little bastard up and shaking your way into a custodial sentence. Better go and buy some Huggies."

All this blah and wobble about advertising is, unfortunately, old news. Unfortunate for me, that is, because the moment is fast approaching where I either have to make my point or fuck off. Beards? Alpha male status? Advertising? It all seemed so coherent back up there at the beginning. Apart from the obvious (advertising is bad and not really relevant to actual reality so we shouldn't pay it never no mind) I'm slightly at loss as to what this piece is actually about. So what now? What indeed. We're through the looking glass, people; the brakes are off and the driver (me) is unwrapping a packet of sandwiches whilst steering with his knees.  But here's a link to the official website of the World Beard and Moustache Championships, a fine resource for anyone who likes their gentlemen on the hirsute and German side:

www.worldbeardchampionships.com

One bloke on this site actually has a likeness of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate fashioned from nothing but moustache wax and good Teutonic beard hair. Maybe I should carry on with my beard growth with a view to making it to the championships. The chance to compete on such an illustrious world stage would be very special indeed and it's got to be better than trying to achieve in my current areas of expertise (masturbation, minesweeper, Resident Evil 4.) I don't know what my mother had planned for me back when I was a nipper but holding the world record for playing 5000 consecutive games of minesweeper with one hand down my trousers probably wasn't it. Rather that than become a teacher, I say.


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