I trimmed another Man’s Beard, and we walked away friends.
It started innocuously enough. I stopped into Pink Beard Hair Studio in Old Town, Chicago to get my beard cleaned up for an up-coming wedding extravaganza. The co-Proprietor of this fine establishment is my friend & co-hort, Justin. We met in a bar in New Orleans some time back. It seems like some of the best people I meet are in bars or breweries.
There is an art to the beard trim. There is banter and a process that has to be followed. We started with pleasantries and the trading of coozies, the cracking of a can of local Revolution Brewing Fist City Pale Ale and I sat in the chair. The trim was quick and efficient. I’ve only let four people ever trim my face beard. Justin, A girl in a haberdashery in St. Paul, some sonuvabitch who destroyed my face & myself. From now on, it will only be me or Justin. Done deal.
At some point Justin mentioned he was thinking of trimming his beard as well. It was getting a bit out of control. Then he suggested I trim it for him. I’m not sure the exact wording but in my head it sounded like he said, “Why don’t you take that electric Viking sword to this glorious mane of hair flowing from my face, and see that you don’t cause any damage you bastard or I’ll kill you.” That’s probably verbatim.
I’m not sure why, but I agreed. And I was terrified. A man’s Beard is part of his identity. It is part of his power source. Ruining another man’s Beard is the equivalent of taking Thor’s hammer or He-Man’s sword. There is a reason the story of Samson still resonates. Though they got the hair placement wrong in that story. I blame the editor.
Justin suggested that as a novice I’d feel more comfortable with a clippers than a professional shears. To me that seemed like a good way to let me screw this up faster but who was I to argue. He’s the expert. He gave me a comb, and I flicked the switch on the clippers. Time to work.
I was cautious at first. I barely took anything off with the first pass. The second a little more aggressive, and by the third I could feel a little rhythm building. I could see if you weren’t shitting yourself terrified that it could almost be meditative. The buzzing of the clippers in your ear, the creation of shape, the repetitive movements. I’d pull the hair down with the comb, clip the ends, then stand back to see what had transpired. When you’re in there close making the cut you can’t see the whole picture. You need to lean away, take it all in and make sure the beard was taking the proper shape.
Pull the hair down. Clip. Lean back. Take it all in. I looked pretty fucking professional. After a few minutes and no major screw-ups we were getting into the nitty-gritty. A major error and we would be turning this beard trim into a shave. I decided I had learned enough for one session and humbly passed the clippers back to the man. A greater appreciation for the art of shaping the hirsute chin. He finished up, and we cracked another beer in celebration. Clinking cans to new experiences and old friends.
If you’re passing through Chicago or have a private jet, stop into Pink Beard, have a can of Hamm’s, from the beer fridge and get your beard trimmed by a pro. If you want an inexperienced hack, I can meet you by the beach anytime. Bring your own clippers.