Facial hair is a tricky thing to pull off.
I have had such for almost a half-century, in one form or another.
In college, I had mutton chops that stuck out four inches from my face. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, "The Father of the Mutton Chop," had nothing on me. I combed them out from my face until they came to a point. They were the perfect facial accessory to my tie-dye shirts, pukka shell necklaces, platform shoes and flared pants. I, of course, looked ridiculous.
Later it was all about the moustache and the Afro. I was living in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and I fit right in. I could pick my Afro out so far that it virtually had a life of its own. Like a "Chia Chuck."
My stache morphed from a goatee to a Van Dyke to a walrus at a moment's notice. Later, as I settled down, I wore a trimmed moustache or goatee for decades. And still do today.
I think it gives my oval Jim Henson-inspired head some depth and character. I've always had a large head. Even as a baby. My baby pictures show me as a nuanced crossover between Bert Lahr and Nikita Khrushchev. A perfectly round, comic-looking bobble-head with several levels of chins. Revisiting these earliest photos set me on the path to a hirsute future. I needed something to break up the round, wide, expansive plane called my face.
Recently I walked into a minefield while getting ready for work at 5 a.m. I made the worst mistake any optically challenged man like myself could make. I tried to shave without putting my glasses on. After, when I wiped my face clean and peered into the bathroom mirror, I was horrified. I had weed-whacked my moustache into a scraggly, uneven, scary-looking swatch of facial Velcro. Uh-oh.
There was only one thing to do. Shave it off.
As I walked to work that morning I noticed it was unseasonably cold out for June. Then I realized it was the burst of morning air hitting the skin between my nose and top lip that had been hidden since Nixon was president.
At work I found myself constantly wiping my chin for fear that I had dripped some water on my face (or worse yet, had entered my drooling phase). My hand always came back dry. My lower face was as cool and clean as a baby's bottom (no doubt a baby that mashed up that old Lahr/Khrushchev thing).
When my co-workers arrived at work I waited for the reaction. At first it was a whisper overheard not quite out of earshot.
"What's the matter with Big? Is he sick?" Or "Big looks different today. Is he all right?"
It was amusing. And then there were the direct comments like "Hey, Big Chuck, are you losing weight?" I loved that one. It was an hour before the shrieks of "Oh my God, where is your moustache?" could be heard echoing throughout the radio station. I suspect that my colleagues have never seen me with a bare face. And I've worked with these people for decades!
Now, several weeks later, the novelty of a hairless face has worn off. I've rediscovered the uncharted shaving shore under one's nose that will leave you with little pieces of white toilet paper tagged on your face to mark the spot where you drew blood.
Enough. It is time to put some hair back on this old mug.
But, since this rebirth, which path do I take? Now that my face is a tabula rasa, I have the opportunity to revisit old, mostly failed, facial configurations.
I seriously thought of partnering up with my old friend the Van Dyke. It is such a declarative facial statement. The marriage of the dashing moustache with the insouciant goatee seemed the perfect fit for me. Or at least it was in 1968.
I decided to look up the definition of the Van Dyke. Once I got to the part where a Chicago columnist in the 1800s reviewed it as a "style that was selfish, sinister, and pompous as a peacock," I thought this is definitely not the road I want to take.
So what will it be? I will probably end up with just a plain, uniform strip of now-graying hair to cover my philtrum. Easy to care for, simple to trim. No muss. No fuss. Boring.
Now those mutton chops, on the other hand ...
I'll catch you in two.
"Big Chuck" D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.
Facial hair is a tricky thing to pull off.
- Big Chuck
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
Winter weather is here. And so are outdoor winter activities.
Vroman's Nose hike is no walk in the park
I haven't gone on a hike since 1961 when President Kennedy asked all Americans to take a 50-mile hike for physical fitness. I did it then. With a large group of my schoolmates and friends. We walked from Sidney to Oneonta and back.
Being a grandpa will be better than just OK
I am going to be a grandfather.
Some hits from the soundtrack of my life
As most people know, I wear two hats at my radio station.
Some book picks from an avid reader
I came to reading begrudgingly. I was an impatient student easily bored with books. Finally an eighth-grade English teacher in Sidney, Kay Jester, figured out my problem. She told me that I had an inquisitive mind and had an affinity for storytelling. She also told me I was reading the wrong books.
- Monday, September 23, 2013
Swapping stories with a sweet centenarian
Marge Mathews is one very special lady.
- Monday, September 9, 2013
Farm honor system can grow on you
What a difference the flip of a calendar makes. I love September and the produce stands!
- Monday, August 26, 2013
My brush with a future president
President Obama came to town!
- Monday, August 12, 2013
Colonoscopy isn't much of a pain in the ...
When a professional looks you in the eye and says, "Sit down, I have something I want to talk to you about," your normal reaction is a flexing of the gluteus maximus and the appearance of sweat drops on the palms of your hands.
- Monday, July 29, 2013
An easy way â€¨to be a hero
It is not much to ask. Plus they give you a cookie and a glass of juice!
- Monday, July 15, 2013
Digging up memories, one box at a time
My Dad kept everything.
- Monday, July 1, 2013
Moms, girlfriends and wives of TV history
I recently saw on TV a birthday salute to actress Betty White. It included many archival videos, celebrity interviews and reminisces from her early days on television. There is no doubt that Betty has found the magic pill. Into her nineties she is still starring in a hit sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland!"
- Monday, June 17, 2013
Upstate theme parks offered affordable thrills
I saw in the news last week that Disney theme parks are raising admission prices to almost $100 a person. Children (who Uncle Walt considers 10 and under) are now $86 a day.
- Monday, June 3, 2013
Getting creative with gifts for grads
Well, it is graduation time again. So much pressure, so many decisions, so many things to take into consideration.
- Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Safety Patrol D.C. visits never get old
I asked Cam Morris, head of Eastern Travel/Oneonta Bus Lines, how many years her company has been handling the Safety Patrol trip to Washington, D.C.
- Monday, May 6, 2013
My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
Ask any hospital administrators if they've ever heard of a closed hospital in New York state that has ever been re-opened. They will say, "Impossible." In a half century of going through records you can't find any.
- Monday, April 22, 2013
Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something "magical" happens when you pass the state sign. "I think they spray 'Vermont Vapor' out of the sign or something," she opined, "something that actually changes us."
- Monday, April 8, 2013
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
- Monday, March 25, 2013
Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
In 1969, I was "The Doughnut King" in Sidney.
- Monday, March 11, 2013
Opera great's visit still a thrilling memory
Opera singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993) has been called the "most distinctive American voice of the 20th century."
- There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|