Is your beard up-to-date?

(the accompanying image, above, should read:                                    “Someday soon, This…Will be remembered like this.”)

Last week, after a day slogging through endless grading, I decided to rejoin NB, a friend and former game-night teammate in an indoor mind-sports game of “team trivial pursuit” at a local sports bistro. For a few months, earlier this year, I was playing on a team with N twice a week. He admits to being addicted to the game & actually still plays six nights a week, every week.

Though it was definitely fun at times to hang out with our team every week, and to meet and become friendly with some of the other teams, the game itself never rose above PFB for me—Pretty F—ing Boring. Capital F Boring. I just couldn’t keep going. But this particular afternoon I ran into N; he was resigned to playing by himself as a one-person team until I happened along; he didn’t look thrilled about it, and so I volunteered to join him after dinner.

I got there half-way into the second round, and over the next hour managed to supply a few of the right answers N didn’t happen to know, including the name for a female fox (“vixen”—how did he not know that?!) and the name of the lawyer & future US president who stood as public defender for the British soldiers who had murdered colonial citizens at the Boston Massacre (“John Adams”—why do I remember stupid details like that, which I’d not thought of since the 3rd grade?). We won $35 for the first place prize against about 20 teams of university students (mostly guys, very few gals playing that night). But they’d all been drinking, and we hadn’t. Maybe that helped.

At this particular bar, all the wait staff are college males, most of whom were sporting the new “lumber-sexual” style of beard, etc. A good many of the college guys drinking and playing there were also sporting this Paul Bunyan bearded look, completed with crew-cut or stand-up-thatch on top with shaved crew sides and back, with plaid wool shirt, cuffed stiff bluejeans with or without suspenders, and sturdy lace-up faux lumberjack work boots. I find the look ridiculous here in the urban desert, especially when it’s identically reproduced by two of every three guys in the same crowded venue. I suppose it’s way better than all of them still looking exactly like the same Marine recruit or used car salesman or CPA or I.T. nerd or faux boho hipster.

But it just seems so comic to me. This silly fad of the fake urban lumberjack look has become mainstreamed here just in the course of this semester. It almost makes me want to shave my own ancient beard! …and throw-out any plaid wool shirts I may still have left over from my years of living in the woods of British Columbia.

I was late in arriving for our effortless trivial team win because half a block away from the venue I got pulled-over and cited by a (beard-less) campus policeman (a mile or two from campus) when he noticed in the dark as I passed his squad car in the midst of a busy traffic intersection that the very tiny registration tag on the corner of my license plate was outdated.

Follow-up Note:
Two days later, and almost $300 lighter in pocket ($20 for renewed smog-testing, $135 for renewed registration tag, and $125 court fine for the “traffic ticket”—discounted by the court clerk from the $500 standard fee), and I’m good to go. All public servants involved, including the young campus-based cop, were polite, thankfully. But keep your tags up to date. That ~$300 was my food money for the month and beyond. “Watch the parking meters,” Bobby Dylan sang. A storefront bookstore I used to frequent had a sign just inside the door: “Is your meter solvent?”


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