Welcome, dear Reader, to October. Yes, October — time of harvests of some fruit that’s in season, the month of Sukkot usually sometimes, and the tenth month of the year (eighth if you’re an ancient Roman, but who’s counting).
Okay, parenthetical remarks aside, I am counting. Because you know what comes after the tenth month? The eleventh/ninth month. And you know what month that is?
When I was a small child, I loved November. Summer was far enough removed from the present that I had forgotten about the sheer, unadulterated joys of freedom and had acclimated to the soul-crushing monotony of public education. Thanksgiving — and the opportunity to legitimately attempt to destroy my digestive system via over-saturation — was just around the corner. Leaf piles dotted the neighborhood like… yeah, okay, there were no leaf piles. It’s hard conforming to stereotypes in southern California. Nevertheless, the point is November was awesome.
And then I grew up.
Because November is no longer just the month when Christmas Lego catalogs hit the mailbox. No, it’s taken on a much more profound role: No-Shave November.
What a fantastic way to foster worldwide manly solidarity! you say. A brilliant way to engender healthy competition in our young males! they claim. More fun than shaving! it’s been declared.
Sure, fine, maybe. But not for me. Because at the age of twenty years — two entire decades spent roaming around the planet — I cannot grow facial hair.
I should refine that statement slightly. I can’t grow respectable facial hair. What I can grow is a straggly patina of neckbeard that accomplishes nothing but move me out of the “adorable baby-face” category and firmly into the “creepy guy who wants you to come play in his van” category when I don’t shave.
So I’m always disappointed, a scant few days into November, when I secretly creep to the bathroom and shave, for I have broken the cardinal man law, transgressed the sacred machismo manifesto. I instead live out my hirsute fantasies vicariously, dreaming of one day owning a mustache I can wax into a windmill.
What I suppose is most troubling about all of this, and what I’ve touched on in a previous (extremely brief) post, is not just that I can’t grow a beard/mustache/goatee/legitimate five o’clock shadow, but that most of my friends can. My Facebook news feed is occasionally adorned with hirsute men I don’t recognize, until I realize people I spent anywhere from a few minutes a week to a few hours a day in contact with in high school have taken the John-Lennon-dirty-hippie-phase path to revolutionizing their look. For them, time has marched on, inexorably, since graduation, the months and years chronicled in their beards. For me, it seems like graduation was yesterday.
So ultimately, I just haven’t come to terms with the fact that I’m more than halfway done with my undergraduate education. Every part of high school seems so recent on the surface, and yet when I peer deeper into my memories I realize what vast sea has sprung up between junior-year-college Seth and junior-year-high-school Seth. I may not have the beard to prove it, but I have completely revolutionized myself in the intervening four years.
Maybe in four more, I’ll look back, stroking my majestic flowing English square cut beard, and smile.