Bearded and Childlike

I miss it. I miss the way it clung to my pillow as the morning sun prodded my tired eyes open. I miss the way it warmed my cheeks, protecting the soft skin now barren and vulnerable to the cold slap of a breeze. I even miss the way it itched like mad. Last Monday I shaved, and I just can’t help but miss that old crew of prickly little hairs.

As is common knowledge, we are in the midst of “No Shave November.” For men and women alike, November is a time to let one’s regularly-trimmed (or shaved) hair grow free like prairie flowers. Unused razor blades are left to decorate bathroom cubbies while faces, legs, and nether regions get lost in a forest of fur. No Shave November is a tradition that I hold dear.

But eight days into this year’s festivities I had an interview. I was caught mediating between the fun-loving Nick who has a passion for goofy pastimes like No Shave November and the more mature Nicholas who sees the potential benefits of an internship with the International Trade Education Program. I was forced to face my dilemma. At approximately noon on Monday, November 8th, 2010, the lives of countless budding whiskers were literally cut short.

My case, however, does not stand alone. For every guy trading in his beard for a job, there is someone else trading in a pair of roller-skates for a pair of leather shoes, a Superman cape for a suit, a Hello Kitty purse for a briefcase. As we grow older, the concept of “fun for fun’s sake” becomes blurred. From the hours of nine to five, we’re busy learning the intricacies of a new company and forgetting how to build cardboard-box forts.

Think back to life before responsibility. Saturday afternoons were marked by marathons on Nickelodeon and a bowl of Cap’n Crunch or Fruit Loops, depending on personal taste. After being thoroughly exhausted by the antics of SpongeBob SquarePants, you were left with the daunting task of choosing between coloring or running around outside until you collapsed. If need be, you could devise a new game on the spot given only a couple twigs and some crumpled-up pieces of paper.

Now the routine is a bit different. Instead of Nickelodeon, maybe you tune in to CNN to catch the latest in world news. Afterward, you might decide between highlighting the important parts of your lab procedure and going for a healthy jog. Regardless of the specifics, everything seems to have a practical purpose, an end that it is meant to achieve. As increasing responsibilities have gradually taken their toll, we’ve come to resemble Squidward much more closely than SpongeBob.

This change, of course, comes out of necessity. No business organized on the principles of fun alone would be profitable; no society made of professional tag players could expect to thrive. But we must be careful not to let the scales tip too far to either side. We must maintain a fair balance between vivacity and professionalism, never straying too far from those eccentric minds we knew better in our childhood years.

So here I am: clean-shaven, interview done. As I go to rub my chin in contemplation over how my interview went, I’m regrettably reminded that I’m missing out on No Shave November. For all the sprightly wishes of my inner child, I miss those early-November whiskers that I had grown “just because.” But more than the scumstache that tickled my upper lip, more than the brutish beard that adorned my face from cheek to neck, I miss the days of yesteryear. I miss the days of Pokémon, Lunchables, Aladdin, and Yoshi. But reminiscing will have to wait. I have an essay to write.

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