I stopped shaving after I came home from Colorado, just to remind me how beautiful winter can be. Snow in New York is delightful as it falls, but as soon as it hits the ground it becomes an execrable nuisance because of all the grime and detritus it absorbs. Especially when you live near a garbage cage, where the diner and the grocery store keep their notoriously soggy trash. It gets dragged to the curb on collection day, but garbage trucks tend to be put off by snowdrifts, and they ignore what they can't reach. The result is a startling orogenesis of half-frozen swill that little boys find absolutely fascinating.
I consider myself really lucky to be able to grow a beard with such complete coverage. This current one is a contemplative exercise, but it also comes in pretty damn handy when the cold winds whip their little knives around. In its early stages I didn't think it stood much of a chance to survive, mainly because Robert didn't approve. He said I looked like a dog, and if I grew it any more he'd never play Legos with me ever ever ever again.
When TwoBert first saw the beard he was convinced it was phony, and I spent many afternoons fending off his attempts to rip my cheeks off. Nights, however, were a different story. Before I settle him in his crib, he nestles his head on my shoulder while I sing him a lullaby. A few months ago, he started pressing his ear against my cheek, presumably so the song would reverberate in his fuzzy little head. This became my nightly transcendent moment, when the world melted away and I could hold my little boy and meditate on how incredibly lucky I am.
When the beard got scratchy, TwoBert couldn't get comfortable. He'd brush up against my hairy cheek and return to scratch his nose on my collarbone. I can't have this, I thought. If it's a choice between the beard or the baby, then the short and curlies must die.
But then, one night about a week ago, TwoBert reached up without looking and starting stroking my face. He does this every night now, for about 15 seconds. Just a little dose of unconditional, pre-literate love.
This beard will be around for a while.