Day 174: Body hair day.

I’m a moderately hairy guy, somewhere between a male underwear model and Robin Williams.

I’m comfortable with the amount of body hair I have — happy with it, even, even the hair on my feet and toes, though my feet aren’t as hairy (or as hardy) as hobbit feet. Mostly I ignore my hair, because I try to be as low-maintenance (at least with regards to my appearance) as possible. I get a haircut — the same haircut, as it were — every six to eight weeks. I trim my beard every three or four weeks. All the other hairs get left alone.

That’s not entirely true. I trim my nose hairs. I don’t do it for aesthetic reasons, but because longer nose hairs, especially during allergy season, which is all the time when what you’re allergic to is plant life — anyway, long nose hairs accumulate mucus (boogers), which impedes the flow of air. Honestly, I know it’s time to trim the inside of my nose when I have trouble breathing through it. Now you know.

I also trim my ear hairs: I have them in the valley between the tragus and the anti-tragus (and I’m not going to lie, I had to look that up), but I also get them on my goddamned earlobes. I’ve only recently noticed them, and I am not exaggerating at all when I say I had earlobe hairs that were four inches long.

Trimming my ear hairs is — and I can say this honestly — my one act of appearance-related vanity. I mean, I like to look good, and I put a minimum amount of effort into it, but not that much. On an average morning — including the mornings of the days on which I teach, an activity for which I have to look reasonably presentable — my rolling-out-of-bed-to-dressed-and-ready-to-leave time is five minutes, and that’s only because it takes me three minutes to find my shoes. I spend more time making my morning espresso than I do on my appearance, and I’m still the most attractive person in the department (as well as the most humble, as ought to be obvious — and I’m a bit ashamed of myself for making such an passé joke, but I’m going to let it stand).

Where was I? Right, right, body hair. I’m not sure I have anything else to say. Body hair is awesome, let it grow, embrace your inner primate, &c.

Also: don’t do a google image search for “hairy” — or “hairy [noun]” — and that includes “hairy noun,” for fuck’s sake — and yes, I did several a few —— don’t search for “hairy” and expect to get much besides porn.

Now you know.

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Day 166: Get a famous person to autograph this page.

I am not the sort of person who runs in to famous people: for one thing, I don’t live in a place with a high concentration of famous people — I live in a place with no famous people — and for another, I avoid large crowds and busy areas as much as I can, and one doesn’t usually run across a famous person in the middle of nowhere. I never have, anyway.

So: since a famous person wasn’t going to come to me, and I wasn’t going to go hunt down a famous person, I decided instead to send the page to a famous person, using the magic of the United States Postal Service. Which famous person, though?

I could go into a long disquisition on what fame is, and what it means to be famous, and what sort of person “counts” as a “famous person” — but my heart isn’t in it. Suffice it to say, the person I chose isn’t famous in the way that Matt Damon or Jeff Bridges or the Coen brothers (I watched True Grit last night, can you tell?) are famous, but he’s a damn sight more famous than I am, and he’s been called out by Glenn Beck, which has to count for something.

I chose the famous-in-certain-circles Mr. David Malki ! — and the exclamation point is supposed to be there, in the manner of ?uestlove and Dr. Robert Smith? — proprietor of Wondermark and one of the editors of Machine of Death, among other things. He has a beard, which is important to me, and seems like the sort of dude who would actually honor this sort of odd request from a stranger (and by seems like I mean seems like as far as one can tell about someone you’ve never met in person and based solely on that person’s online existence, which was the subject of a recent Wondermark).

I wrote him a letter, I sent him the page torn out of the Book, I included a self-addressed stamped enveloped (as an aside: the abbreviation SASE has always seemed to me like it should refer to something else) — and I’m hoping for the best.

I’ll keep you posted.


Day 145: Start an urban legend.

Despite the title of this post, this actually happened to a guy I used to work with.

So this dude – David – left the store one night – we worked at a Starbucks, in San Antonio, at Bandera and 1604 – here, approximately —— anyway, he left work one Saturday night about 11:30, headed to a party at some dude’s house out toward Bandera (the town for which the road was named). It was late, he’d had a long day, he didn’t really know where he was going, and he got lost.

He’d been driving along for a while, passing no lights, going through no intersections, before he realized how lost he was. This was back in the days before everyone and their gerbil had a smartphone with a GPS, so he was really and truly lost. He kept going, looking for a place to turn around, found a driveway – and saw a big house, set pretty far back from the road, with a bunch of lights on.

He decided to go knock on the door – surely they would know where their house was, right, and could give him directions back in to town?

Of course, they might also rape, murder, and eat him – shit like that happens, you know.

Well, he took the chance. A gorgeous “farmer’s daughter” type answered the door – she gets prettier with every telling – and invited him in, to maybe have a drink?, she said – and David thought he’d found his way into one of those stories. So he went in, he sat on the couch she pointed him to, he said yes when she asked him if bourbon was alright, and then…

…he shat a brick when someone else brought him his bourbon. Not only because it was an old man, but also because it was Bill-motherfucking-Ghostbusting-Murray.

They ended up drinking and talking all night. Turned out that the dude who owned the house – the farmer – and Bill had gone to college together – at Regis, in Denver – and had done that one thing, together, that one time, but only Bill managed not to get arrested for it. Sometime around dawn, Bill made them all waffles. “Best waffles I’d ever eaten,” David said. After a few rounds of mimosas, he got directions back in to town, went home, changed, and came in to work for another closing shift.

He told me the story. He told it several times that night, to coworkers and customers. Finally I said to him: “You know that no one believes you, right?”

“Yeah,” he answered: “That’s what he said.”


Day 138: Learn a new knot.

I’m not good at knots. I can tie my shoes, I can tie a square knot, and I can make some knot-shaped objects, but that’s the extent of my knot-tying abilities.

Or it was, until today. Today I doubled the amount of knots I know how to tie.

Before learning a new knot, I had to select a knot to learn – and, this being 2011, I went to Wikipedia and looked up ‘knots’. If I’d been at home when I was doing this, I might have looked in my Boy Scout Handbook, but I was in my office. (For the record: I was never a boy scout; I was a cub scout for one meeting, and then the troop vanished mysteriously, and that was that. But I do have the book, and I’m always prepared. Not clean, sober, thrifty, or reverent, though.)

I somehow landed on the “trucker’s hitch” page, which sounded good – where was this knot when I was trying to secure my new hot water heater a few weeks ago? – but which also turned out to be a category of knots, rather than a particular knot. I decided on the “Alpine butterfly knot” – because why not, dammit – which can be useful by itself, or in combination with a half-hitch or double-half-hitch.

The Alpine butterfly is actually pretty easy to do: two twists, a fold, another fold, a pull, and BAM! a knot. I practiced in my office, in the dark. A woman I don’t know walked past, looking pleasantly lost. She gave me the briefest of “what the fuck are you doing” looks, and I gave her back my best “tying knots in one’s office in the dark is totally normal, alright?” looks back. Then I closed my door.

I didn’t actually get to use the knot today: nothing appeared that said “tie me with an Alpine butterfly knot!” It must knot not have looked enough like a hammer to me, because I saw no nails.

So, that’s that. Today’s lesson? Learning a useful skill = boring blog post.


Day 76: Wear shoes that are one size too small.

The idea is that the removal of the not-quite-big-enough shoes will produce pleasure, or something.

I don’t need a special day to do this – I am always happy to take my shoes off. Isn’t everyone?

The best pair of shoes I have ever owned was purchased for me by my parents, back in the summer of 2000 – I was going off to college, and entertaining wild ideas about running for fun, and thought I needed shoes in which to pursue that ridiculous activity. So I convinced my parents to get me some Saucony Shadows. Green ones.

I didn’t really do any running in those shoes, but I wore them everywhere, and they eventually were worn out enough that I couldn’t wear them “out” anymore. I didn’t get rid of them, though, because they’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. They became my yardwork/chainsawing/whatever shoes. I still have them, actually, and still wear them. They’ve been entirely caked with mud at least twice, most recently when I spent a few days in the mud under the house trying to fix a broken copper water line.

This isn’t a post about those shoes, though: it’s about the boots I wore today.

Cowboy boots, specifically, that used to belong to Lorna’s grandfather, who died about six months before we got married. They’re great boots, but I almost never wear them, because they’re about a half-size too small, and the toes are pointy, and the heels of the boots are tall enough that they shove my toes even further into the pointy front of the boots. My toes don’t like that; my toes need room to spread out.

I wore them – well, not all day, but until about four o’clock this afternoon, when I switched to my Chacos (another amazing pair of shoes sandals, which I wear any time the temperature is above 50°F).

Incredibly, my feet felt fine at four. Now, I hadn’t done much walking: mostly I sat around on my in-laws’ back porch, drank some coffee, smoked a cigar, and finished (finally!) Hamlet. I’m sure if I’d walked even a mile in the boots, my feet would have been aching – but I didn’t, and so they didn’t. And I’ll definitely be wearing the boots more often: both because I’ve discovered that they’re not actually that uncomfortable, and because my wife likes them. A lot. Inordinately, I think, but I’m not going to argue with her when she tells me I look good.

I’ve learned that much, at least, over the last ten years.


Day 68: Choose one hair on your body…

“…that you will let grow 1 yard long.” According to the Book, this should only take about 8 years.

I don’t know how this is supposed to work. I mean, I can tell you all that I’ve chosen a hair, and call it done – but that seems unsatisfying, somehow.

The issue, I think, is in the choosing of the hair: I have plenty of hairs on my body – even on the knuckles of my toes, like a hobbit – and most of them never get cut, and none of the ones that never get cut are a yard long, and they never will be.

The only hairs that have a chance are those growing from my scalp – maybe those growing in my beard, but I don’t think any of them would make it to a yard. I’m no Dumbledore.

So, really, the only way I’m going to get a yard-long hair is to let one of my scalp hairs go to … town? To seed? Out to pasture? Go nuts? Go wild?

Well, whatever —— to let one of my scalp hairs grow for the next seven or eight years without cutting it. But the only way I’d let one hair get away with that is to let all the hairs on my scalp get away with it. I don’t want to have just one long hair, because that would look stupid.

And I’m not going to let all my hair get long, either – when it gets long enough that I can’t just roll out of bed, run my fingers through it, and call it done, my hair is too long. I like my hair short not (only) because I like how it looks, but because it’s lower maintenance, and I like low maintenance. Part of the reason I have a beard is so I don’t have to shave every day (the other part is that beards are awesome).

I’ll never be able to do this, or this, or this, or sculpt a Mona Lisa out of my single hair – and I don’t really care. I also never have to use a brush, and I think that’s a pretty good trade.


Day 61: Today, find out how symmetrical you are.

Symmetry is over-rated.

Today’s exercise involved measuring various horizontal dimensions of my face, doing a lot of calculations that didn’t appear to make sense, and eventually arriving at my Individual Asymmetry Score (or GRD – not sure how that works), which would tell me where I fall between beautiful people and carnies on the scale of facial attractiveness.

Too much work, sorry. I was still tired from yesterday’s impossible pizza.

Instead of measuring, I just stared at myself in the mirror for awhile. I noticed some asymmetries – as I’ve mentioned before, my mouth slants, and my left ear sticks out a tad further than my right one, and my eyes are slightly different shapes – but these things enhance the handsomeness of my face, rather than detracting from it.

A face needs character; character comes from imperfection. Harrison Ford has to have his chin scar, Dumbledore has to have a crooked nose, this guy has to have a funny hat and a goofy smile. Faces that are “perfect” are also boring and forgettable.

At some point, though, character becomes ugliness, grotesquery – and I’d rather look like a nobody than one of da Vinci’s five heads. That makes me shallow and vain, I know; I’m okay with that. I don’t need to measure my face and do some fuzzy math. I look good (but not too good), and I have an awesome beard. What else is there that’s important?

Exactly. Nothing.