January 04, 2010

Beard

It's the famous beardy anti-narrative that isn't really anti-narrative, it just uses some anti-narrative techniques.

He grew a beard for No Shave November. This is not actually a fictional month-event. I visited the University of Edinburgh recently, where they all have beards at the moment, because it’s November. Well, most of them do anyway. For some, it’s an embarrassing reminder that they still can’t actually grow facial hair. Anyway, whoever breaks first, and shaves it off must buy everybody else a drink. Expensive.

It hasn’t worked for some. Poor Dave, ladies man, has had very little lady luck lately. Matt on the other hand is now dating my best friend, so good for him. But those are real people. I’d quite like to draw your attention to somebody who probably doesn’t exist in Edinburgh, but who will simply be placed there for the purposes of entertainment. With his beard. For the beard is quite important for the purposes of this story (although really, this story isn’t very important in real life. It’s not political, it won’t make you think deeply about the ways of life and social constraints, etc, unless you’re too clever for your own good).

This person in question (let’s call him Brian. Brian is a good name) had some pretty bad luck in relation to No Shave November. Nonetheless, he remained too proud to give up, shave off and pay up.

First of all, just over a week in, his girlfriend’s parents chose this time to drive up to meet this man who had been seeing their daughter for two months. A week isn’t very long, but Brian was already starting to look a little unkempt, which is a generous description. In all honesty, if I’d seen him sitting by the side of the road, I’d probably have tried to find him some loose change. And Julia’s parents were of a similar opinion. She made a valiant attempt to stand by him throughout lunch, to try to suggest that she didn’t mind, but the truth was that for the whole week, she had begged him, pleaded with him, even tried to trick him into shaving, into tidying up. The result was that her parents made comments, Brian became lairy and the whole lunch was a little unpleasant.

The next day, Julia had a fight with him, and insulted the concept of No Shave November. In a huff, Brian insulted her. Furiously, Julia threatened to break up with him unless his beard went. Brian still didn’t shave it off. It had become a symbol of his struggle against normality. He soon found himself very much single.

Another week later, Brian’s beard turned ginger. Normally, in our tolerant society, this wouldn’t be a problem. Many ginger people now have jobs. Except that Brian isn’t a ginger character. He is blond. Therefore, he looked ridiculous.

A week later, Brian was enjoying a social cigarette with a random pub goer to try and combat the month’s stress. It had been a long night and many pints had been consumed. Hazily, Brian misjudged the placing of his cigarette and his lighter and his beard, so somehow ended up on fire. Thankfully, the random pub goer Luke (who was taking a stand by ignoring the whole thing and refusing to grow a beard) managed to put it out by throwing a snake bite over his face. This meant that a) the ginger beard was tinged purple and b) it was somewhat ragged. He couldn’t even fix the raggedness as you’re not allowed to trim your beard during No Shave November. Another sad consequence of this event was that this was an example of a fictional character meeting a real person (for Luke is in fact a real person) which led to something very bizarre occurring. Neither of them, regardless of their alcoholic consumption, have any recollection of each other. Luke knows that someone caught fire and Brian knows that someone threw snake bite over him, thus extinguishing a beard-fire. It’s a shame, because Luke’s a nice guy, and very close friends with my best friend in Edinburgh, thus Brian is missing out on some excellent friend opportunities. Sadly, fictional people cannot meet non-fictional people. That’s that.

Finally, after a very, very rough month, Brian celebrated the end of it on the 30th of November by getting extremely, mind-blowingly drunk. A bottle of tequila down the line, he passed out in his bedroom without locking it, and one of his friends came into his bedroom and shaved his beard for a joke. Unfortunately, this occurred ten minutes before midnight, when it would have been officially the 1st of December. This is the first day that you are allowed to shave the November beard. So Brian did not do the full month. And had to buy everybody a drink. In all honesty, had he quite reasonably pointed out that he didn’t technically shave himself, nobody would really have minded. Unfortunately, Brian is a very proud man, and on the evening of the first of December, one could see him in the student pub buying a group of smirking students a pint each.

Or at least, one would have, were he in fact a real person, not an imaginary character placed in a real universe for the purposes of entertainment.


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