I’m not the same person I was last night–so much has changed. I look back and see myself: grizzled, worn from the weight of the world, the kind of person it’s totally unnecessary to card at a bar. Things have changed since then, and the only thing I can say for certain is that my wind resistance is down and every time one of my students giggles, I think it’s because of the great change they have seen in me. Where once there was a great heaving behemoth of a bear-man, now they see a cherub for I have shaved the beard from my face and violently transformed myself into a hybrid monster with the body of a 67 year old alcoholic and the face of a teenage girl.
I found that having a scruffy face gave me a slight edge when it came to commanding my students. Sometimes they’d actually listen to me, and if they didn’t, I could reach out with my prehensile chin hair and smack them on their laughably bare cheeks. Now that my fuzzy badge of authority has been removed, they spend more time giggling at the child-faced wonder that once was their teacher. I don’t know how to fix this, but I’ve got Machiavelli and many years of repressed rage that I’m certain will help me through this trying time.
I don’t regret the loss of my fluffy chin-shadow. Arizona feels a lot like the inside of an oven if that oven were inside a larger, more powerful oven, so sleeping with a mess of sweaty steel wool clinging to my face was unpleasant. Now, I fall asleep with all the ease of a totally hairless swimmer rocketing through a pool of baby oil.
Another benefit of leading an aerodynamic life is that I finally look exactly like what I’ve told my students I truly am: a weird cat lady. Before, when I was enshrouded in the warm, prickly embrace of beard-dome, onlookers gazing upon my glorious countenance likely thought things like “Oh my, look at that domesticated grizzly bear. So well behaved!” Or “Look at that lumberjack go! I know he’s not carrying an ax or wearing flannel, but the smell of pine is in his soul.” Or even “Look, that’s a male member of the human species!” Now, I assume people think things with less certainty and more whimsy. Things like “That large, sweaty baby looks very unhappy.” Or “Oh, that’s what a thumb would look like wearing slacks.” Maybe even “why is that large piece of raw chicken walking so fast?”
Everyone says not to worry, that it’ll grow back, but they forget about the time before it grows back when I am caught paradoxically being delighted at how smooth my face is while also hating that I’d look strange carrying an ax down the road now. That is the world I find myself in: hairless, happy, and with a severe deficit of axes.