Archive for June, 2010

The Results of May “Man” Month

At the beginning of May, after I arrived back in Aomori after a week of farming in Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido (I know, I know, it’s been awhile; more posts to come!), I went out with friends to a local sushi place.

“That’s some nice stubble you’ve got there,” my full-bearded friend noted, referring to my weeklong unshaven face. “You should try growing it out.”

Thus began May Man Month, a monthlong journey to growing my first beard. It was a slow, itchy process, but overall successful. My benchmark was enough hair for food to get caught (someone pointing out stranded rice on my chin = success!). Comments about it have run the gambit – the most complimentary coming from a first grader who yelled “Superman!” and the least from two middle schooler girls who simply remarked, “N.G.”

“What’s N.G.?”

“No Good.”

Others include a resemblance to Beckham, raised eyebrows of speculation, and one teacher’s description of “wild sexy boy.” As the Month of Man was nearing its end, my supervisor brought out the “Office Etiquette” handbook, flipped to the English section on Tattoos and Piercings, and asked if there was anything that mentioned beards.

“This section is about tattoos and piercings.”

“Ah, well, maybe you should ask your teachers about your beard. If they say no, you should shave. If they say it’s okay, maybe you should shave anyway.”

That’s about as direct as a Japanese person will be; the American translation is “Get that ugly scruff off your face.” I’m just glad 1) it survived most of the month, 2) something actually grew, and 3) I create a semblance of sophistication when I raise an eyebrow and stroke it. So this is goodbye to the beard, though I have a feeling it will make a comeback in the future. I leave you with some fun I had in the shaving process.