The Griswold Effect

More and more it seems holidays come by, namely Christmas and the New Year, and go on and never turn out exactly as I had planned. I have this grandiose vision of myself and my family gathering in front of a warm fireplace calmly enjoying the general peace and quietly relaxing in the overall aesthetic of such picturesque imaginings.

But nothing ever goes this way.

First, there’s the fact that we’re waiting for either of my brothers-in-law to show up though they’ve given explicit times of arrival. Then, either on or the other brings along a girlfriend that we were absolutely certain that they were no longer dating or seeing casually or generally sleeping with occasionally and we scatter to confer about what to do considering the lack of gifts that are available for this recent arrival. Then our daughter needs a nap. I mean, “Can she wait another hour or two?” I GUESS THAT’S A NO AND HOLY HELL HOW DID SHE LEARN TO MAKE SOUNDS LIKE THAT? Was the cat just licking this half of the turkey? Which cat? I saw Chevy jump down from the counter. YOU saw Taboo up there? Does it matter which cat was licking the fucking bird? OH shit we forgot to start the mashed potatoes. Where did your brother go? What do you mean he left? Is he coming back?

Dot dot dot…

And yet, I have this intense desire to host a large family gathering at my house when I have a house in which to host it. Why the hell would I want to do that? Awww Yiss…mother fucking movies man. I call it the Griswold Effect, named of course after the forsaken Clark W. Griswold of National Lampoon fame. One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies. No matter how much goes wrong, Clark is determined to have that perfect Rockwell holiday. And after it all falls apart, he realizes that maybe that was the reality of the dream. There is no perfect holiday. Nothing comes out quite like the pictures. No Bing Crosby singing carols to the family as Dick van Dyke carves up the turkey in the background and Ma Cleaver sets the table as a great fire roars in the stone fireplace next to the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree dressed in beautiful baubles. Nope.

But do I still strive for such a holiday. Of course I do. It is the manly thing to do, I guess. The testosterone drives my to do it. Perhaps I’m the only one stricken by the Griswold Effect, but I certainly hope I am not.

I Officially Refuse to Acknowledge that Question

I’m kind of getting sick of seeing Duck Dynasty stuff everywhere I turn. And then I saw this:

And I still have yet to figure out why anyone cares about these people. They make duck calls, I guess? And they have beards.

I’m sick of getting asked if my beard growing decision was in response to the popularity of this show. No. The answer is no. I’ve had this beard, in some form or another, for longer than these people have known fame. And it shall continue beyond the point when said fame whittles away into some forgotten wasteland. Into the depths of Reality Show Hell in which people like Doctor Drew console the likes of Snookie on her recent decision to give up crystal meth.

I find their beards oddly false. That is not to say fake, because I can say with near certainty that they are real beards. I however do not believe that these individuals even once cared about the beard itself, and are moreso considering the look of the beard and bandanas and camouflage as the look of the common man or the “Joe Sixpack” as was the popular turn of phrase pre-2008. I mean, look at this:

I do not honestly know if they make an effort to tell those around them that their bearded ruggedness is genuine and not simply an appeal to the uncivilized world about them, but I’m officially sick of being asked about any connection between their beards and my own.

The Allowable Profession

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I must say a cheers to the education profession.

Before this, I must state that I am, in fact, a teacher.

That being said, I toast my profession because, similar to the sensibilities of those who employ lab technicians, tattoo artists, and baristas amongst other things, teaching is one of the few jobs in which it is acceptable to be bearded. That is not to say that other fields are not catching up, but it seems that I hear a good deal of hullabaloo about those with potentially moderate to rather massive beards being forced to leave work and return quite closely shorn the subsequent day.This is not the case with education, or so I understand it is not. As I am evidence of, I was hired with a good two months of growth already under my belt, or, for a better analogy, beyond the razor. And I was hired with not a single mention of my vermillion companion and its future at the company.

It seems rather antiquated an idea to force a bearded man to shave his proud achievement for the sake of conforming to some norm that, in essence, is relatively new. Beards were much more widely accepted and actually a sign of masculinity, not uncleanliness and lack of caring. Now, that is not to say that I do not understand why a business may suggest a bearded man trim up and clean up the scraggliness of his beard, especially if in the public view, such as in a retail sort of field. However, oftentimes it seems those suggesting they are being told to get rid of it are working in an office, with little to no social interaction with anyone outside of that office.

Now, my students certainly react in interesting ways, showing a deep interest in my beard. But I have not once been told by anyone besides some joking students that I should be rid of it. In fact, my beard seems nothing more than accepted. And this is something I celebrate.

To education! To beards!

The Beardly

For some time now, I have been the companion of a beard.

Yon beard!

Yon beard!

I suggest that I am companion to said beard because it is attached to me and we, together, interpret the world. This beard has been growing on me (pun intended) for as long as ten years in some form or another. However, it was not until recently that I was convinced by my wife to grow it out. Thus, it has been growing in length for approximately four months.

In the early stages, it was unruly and wild. It curled and curved, meandered and tarried about some untrodden path toward no semblance of order. Some months back, I decided that something must be done to contain my beard’s untamed growth beyond simple clipping and shaping. That was when I discovered the wonders of beard oil.

Worry not, fellow traveler of the Worldwideweb. Before I began the research, I had never been aware of such a thing even existed. Oddly, there is a world of beardly solvents and tinctures that exists below the surface of our own just as Diagon Alley exists beyond the normal human perception. This world includes such items as beard oil, moustache wax, boar’s bristle brushes, pre-shave oils, beard specific shampoos, and far more. Unfortunately, this line of mystically obscure products is frequently fraught with the ills of high prices. Fortunately, there is a way.

I decided to strike out and create my own, which could be tailored to my specific needs and desires. I began with a recipe recovered from here. I gathered the ingredients, such as the carrier oils (which simply add bulk and moisturizing to the product) and the essential oils (which add varying topical characteristics as well as intoxifying scents) from the Bulk Apothecary. I bought a nice dropper glass from my local co-op. The recipe was thus:

The stache stash.

The stache stash.

Carrier Oils:

Almond oil
Jojoba oil

Essential Oils:

Peppermint oil (About 10 drops)
Black pepper oil (2-3 drops)
Tea tree oil (5-6 drops)
Cypress oil (5-6 drops)

Add the essential oils according to the recipe. Fill the remainder of the bottle with almond oil and jojoba oil. If you would like it to be a bit thicker, add more jojoba, but keep the total quantity of jojoba less than that of the almond oil. Shake before use. Put anywhere from a few drops to a dropper’s worth in the palm of your hand. Rub your palms together and apply oil to beard. Work it around so that it is evenly distributed. Use a boar’s bristle brush to ensure adequate distribution and style your beard as desired.

As I used this up, I found more essential oils to add into the mix in differing quantities: cedar oil, pine needle oil, coffee oil, et cetera. I used these in lieu of the peppermint oil. Your best bet would be to experiment with quantities to find what you like. In the end, my beard was much happier with its morning routine of wash, dry, oil, and brush. Now, it is far more agreeable.

All hail the oil!

All hail the oil!