Posted by: joha5 | April 13, 2010

My Life as a Post-Pubescent Superhero

Something embarrassing happened yesterday but you wouldn’t have known it if you were a fly on the wall.  One of my students asked the generally innocuous question of ‘Mr. Haworth, would you ever grow sideburns?’.  Luckily, I am prepared for an onslaught such as this and answered quickly with ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind them but I can’t really have them now while I am hunting for work’.  I realize this answer villainizes sideburns as some sort of unacceptable thing that people scoff at but I felt my answer was satisfactory – if not dismissive – so we could move on to the next topic. 

The truth is that I am 28 years old and have never had the ability to grow sideburns.  I mean, I can grow the kind of sideburns you have when you are 7 years old (ie. hair dangling over your ears) but I can’t grow real ones.  In fact, I can barely grow any facial hair.  While most people shave every day or every other day, I shave once a week and even that is pushing the limits of how often I need to do it.  I only really do it that often because otherwise I would look like one of those awful teenagers that you see at the mall on a Saturday who has greasy hair, zits, a black Metallica t-shirt on,  mildly patchy facial hair, and no mastery of any social sense.  I am proud to say that I was never like that as a teenager but I might be misconstrued as one if you quickly glanced at me after not having shaved for a week – although you certainly wouldn’t find me in a Metallica t-shirt socializing at the mall…often.

It isn’t that I feel like any less of a man because I don’t have enough testosterone or whatever it is that causes hair to grow – I would just like the option.  That’s all.  Even if I had this superpower to grow facial hair I probably wouldn’t even do it.  It would just be awesome to know that I could but that I choose not to – kind of like Superman knowing he can fly but that he chooses not to.  I’d be just that extra little bit smug and I would love myself for it even though nobody would have any idea what I would be smug about.  ‘What’s his problem?’ they’d say to themselves.  They would probably think it was something much more serious and important of why I had a chip on my shoulder but only I would know that I would be smug because I had mastered the power of growing facial hair.  It would be glorious. 

This student, however, had succeeded in accidentally reminding me that I did not control this ability.  I had no reason to be smug.  I immediately thought back to a happier time last year when I discovered that I had a tiny blond chest hair right in the middle of my chest like a sprout that had taken 28 years to grow.  It was practically invisible and nobody knew it was there except for me.  Much like Obama, this tiny blond hair represented hope, it represented change.  And, boy, did I show it off.  Seriously.  You might think it sounds weird but I paraded it around like I was the host of its own ticker tape parade.  I knew nobody cared but it wasn’t about them – it was about me.  I feel like this phase of my life lasted for much longer than it did but it really couldn’t have lasted longer than a couple of weeks until disaster struck.  It fell out.

Not only did it fall out without any warning but it never grew back.  Hope and change had fallen by the wayside because I had given it an aggressive public agenda for 2 weeks.  It just didn’t have the perseverance to make it through a full term nor the will to even attempt a second.  My singular chest hair had failed.  For a brief period in time I felt super human.  I had mastered the superpower of growing a mutant chest hair for good instead of evil.  However, I have since given up on him ever returning.  It has been too long now and the sense of loss has been replaced with a sense of acceptance.  His memory will live on, especially in the moments when I am reminded that he isn’t coming back.  You would think I’d be sad but I still like to harbor the thought that I could grow him back if I wanted to, it’s just that I don’t need him as much anymore.


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