Doesn’t every guy? I answered the door and frightened the FED-EX man out of his skin. Over the years, I’ve sent many a stranger at my door howling away in terror. Duh, I keep forgetting that I’ve applied my beard dye, turning my face into a very scary sight.
Realizing that I’m forever cursed to be a scatterbrain, I can’t blame a memory malfunction. For example, as a movie buff, I can recall the names and personal histories of even the most obscure film actors by the dozen. So why have I developed a mental block when it comes to setting the simple five-minute timer that I use to dye my beard?
Yes, I dye my blotchy salt-and-pepper beard. There, I’ve confessed. I only dye it so that it will match my head hair, which miraculously has never turned gray. And I’m in my eighth decade.
My brother Stosh hates my beard. Humph. Forever jealous because he simply could never grow one.
“Still beardless after all these years, eh Stoshie?” I teased recently. “Don’t be jealous, bro. Could it be a low testosterone level?”
Stosh merely smirked, said, “Me jealous? Ha! I don’t need a hairy face to secure my masculinity. You never could stand the fact that I’m so devastatingly macho. And if you dare disagree, I’ll slap you silly.”
Stosh and I have two things in common: 1) Due to familial genes, our ancient heads house oodles of hair; his a mousy gray, mine a foxy brown. And 2) we worship the same movie heroes, Kirk Douglas and George Clooney. But for very different reasons.
Stosh attributes his admiration of both stars to the heroic characters they’ve portrayed. Characters-smaracters. I admire the actors for their hairdos.
I applaud Kirk Douglas primarily because, for a centenarian, he sports a huge amount of thick hair. Receding and gray, I grant you, but he’s 101.
That’s the old man I wanna be if my hair dares to ever turn gray, heh, heh. Though abundantly blessed with a still-stunning movie star face, I never let my begrudging siblings forget that I’ve been cursed to survive decade after decade with not so much as a single bad hair day. Drat the luck.
Now if my beard matched my head hair as impeccably as George Clooney’s salt and pepper does, I wouldn’t bother to dye my beard at all. Let’s face the fact: Clooney and I look like twins except for our hair. My beard looks pathetically blotchy; a gob of salt here, a gob of pepper there. No Clooney uniformity. No Clooney symmetry.
This morning Stosh and I bickered (and he was proven wrong) about who possesses the most chest hair as we sped off to join our biker gang (full disclosure: it’s really a triker gang. A bunch of baby boomers riding adult tricycles).
The gang wondered aloud what the hell happened? When did my face turn jet black? Continuing his eternal quest to make me look foolish, Stosh couldn’t wait to start waving a pack of pictures to our fellow trikers. These photos feature me a few years back when I decided it would make sense to do my beard touchups with my wife’s mascara. A disaster.
As the gang went into hysterics, my face turned crimson red. Except of course for the super-black beard. Pity the fools who ridicule me. Obviously they’d forgotten that I hold a lavender belt in karate.
Instead of attacking the old and gray and balding trikers I turned the tables on them by shifting the attention to our very long-haired hippy member named Norman. I raved about how much I admired his gray tresses.
“Oh Norman, please cut that hair off and sell it to me,” I begged.
“What would you do with it?”
I proudly announced that I would love to dye it the same color as my head hair and have it braided like Willie Nelson’s. Then I would have extensions clipped onto my own hair. Lastly I’d add an American flag bandana around my forehead.
“It’s called The Willie,” I announced. “Now boys, you know me. I believe we should constantly reinvent ourselves. This would enable both Norman and me to do just that.”
Well, that shut them up. Later I overheard Norman tell Stosh that he would seriously consider selling his hair to me. “For the right price.”
Stosh told him that he would never speak to either one of us again if that happened.
— Steve Eskew
Retired businessman Steve Eskew received master’s degrees in dramatic arts and communication studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after he turned 50. After one of his professors asked him to write a theater column, he began a career as a journalist at The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This led to hundreds of publications in a number of newspapers, most of which appear on his website, eskewtotherescue.com.