“Did you lose the beard off?”
I have heard that from about 10 people since the end of the contest.
“Why does everyone assume I LOST?”
Most have said, “Because you don’t have a beard.” For some, I think that really is why they think I lost. For others, I think they underestimate me. They think I didn’t have it in me to win. I had it in me, and more to spare.
The beard-off started friendly enough. The contestants had, after all, gone in unknowingly. The beards existed before the competition. It was never about the beards. There was money at stake too, but it was never really about the money. The winner may not even try to claim the money. Well, maybe the winner will try to claim the monetary value of the cash prize in food and beer payments.
It was about winning. The beards looked good. Both contestants were constantly complimented on them. Before the end, there were two beard camps; maybe four. Some liked my beard better. Some crazies liked Chris’s better. Some thought I would win. Some foolishly thought Chris would. Some probably lied to our beard-faces about what they thought. Preference for one contestant’s beard had no bearing on who would prevail.
Six weeks past and both contestants had official beards. They were crossing the threshold from clean cut toward Joaquin Phoenix’s current facial growth, and in desperate need of trimming. No trimming allowed.
At the beginning, I think most people had faith in me over Chris, knowing, correctly how stubborn I am. I made it quite public to everyone that even though I grow a beard for a couple weeks from time to time, I hated the current reddish mess on my formerly youthful face. To my former supporters, this seemed like a sign of weakness in their champion. They forgot that I’m stubborn, but I’m also underhanded.
Chris knew it was coming to an end. I wanted out. He wanted out. At one point, he offered a truce- we would both just shave over the weekend and tell everyone we gave up. My public display of weakening brought his out privately, away from the arena of work.
“Well,” I told him. “I’m going to a party tonight and I kind of want to show off the beard. You can shave if you want to.” He was too smart for this (it wasn’t a very good attempt on my part). “Don’t try to win through trickery.”
On the way to the party, a drunken woman in a liquor store asked how old my friend Courtney is. She told her, “28.” I was standing behind Courtney in line and from behind me, I heard the woman ask me, “Is that your daughter?” Even though she was an old drunk hag, I turned around in full sass mode and said, “Do I LOOK like I could have a 28 year old daughter?!”
That made my estimated age in that woman’s glassy eye probably about 50. Nice. Yes, she was drunk and crazy. The point is: I was sick of the beard making me look any older.
The next day I sent Chris a text with a picture of my face without a beard. A short while later, he did the same from his phone to mine. It was over.
It wasn’t until we saw each other the next day that the winner became the loser. The picture I sent was from 2 weeks before the beard off began. No, I don’t sit around taking pictures of myself on my phone. I had sent a picture to my friend when I dyed my hair darker so she could see it.
One more picture marked the official end of the beard off: Chris with his clean-shaven face and me with my beard at the height of its craziness.
A few people have called what I did cheating. The picture was sent without any text. I knew exactly what it implied, and allowed my opponent to jump to a conclusion. His trust (ahem, weakness) led to my victory.
“I used trickery. I would have outlasted you. I just wanted to end it quicker. Did you really think you were ever gonna win?”
I shaved later that day.
Unable to deal with our naked faces, we both started growing beards again immediately.