Anything Anything? A Bristling Tale Of Bearded Bufoonery
[Originally published in King Shit Magazine.]
Two young men recently approached me and one said, “Nice beard.” I nodded politely in thanks. I’m always kind of baffled by that compliment. It’s not like I do anything to it. Then the other asked, “How long did it take you to get it like that?”
I found the question odd. It’s kind of like asking, “How long did it take you to get that tall?”
“I was born like this,” I replied.
They took note of the annoyance in my voice and wisely moved on. “We won’t bother you anymore,” one said. Which kind of disappointed me because I was looking forward to giving more stupid answers to their stupid questions.
I have some friends who are in a beard and mustache club. The club is called, The Bristly Chaps of Los Angeles.
“We are the official SoCal Chapter of Beard Team USA,” it says on their site (bristlychaps.tumblr.com). “We grow facial hair, and then, once every two years, gather in a different place around the world to show off our awesome facial hair and compete for the title of World's Best.”
There are some skateboarders in their ranks: Patrick Melcher, Gareth Steher, John Spencer, and Richie Jackson. I met with them one afternoon at Footsie’s bar in LA.
Richie was sleeping on a bench. He had just flown in from Australia and was suffering from severe jetlag. Some Jagermeister helped revive him a little. The Nuge was playing pool, but we weren’t concerned with him because he’s Asian and can’t grow any facial hair. But the rest of us sat down at a booth and chatted about beards.
“You don’t choose your beard, your beard chooses you,” they all said together in unison at one point.
“If you’re doing it for the ladies, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” that was another catchy one.
They were really into their beards and mustaches. It was cute. Because I don’t even care about my beard. I’ve had it for over 20 years and I’ve barely touched the thing. But since these guys were such beard aficionados, I thought it might be fun to let them do some styling. I offered the hair sculptors my untamed beard as a canvas of sorts to make whatever fabulous creation they desired.
“Can we do anything anything?” the Bristly Chaps asked after I said they could do anything to my beard. I had heard this question before in regards to shaving my beard, and it gave me pause.
A few years before, I had set up an interview with Zach Galifianakis for a new magazine we were launching. This was years before The Hangover came out. Zach was, and still is, one of my favorite comedians, but at the time he hadn’t blown up yet. (I feel the need to get huffy and say, “I was soooo into Zach way before you were,” because I heard a Hollywood movie critic review The Hangover recently and he said, “And that new actor? Zach Gaffagus? What a find!” What a find? What a douche—the critic, not Zach.) Anyway, Zach agreed to do the interview and graciously invited our small crew to his house in Venice Beach.
There wasn’t much of a plan for the interview. I brought Zach a red, union suit to wear while we talked. I’m not sure if there was any other point to that other than it looked funny, but Zach said okay and donned the suit. I wore one also. We looked cute together. Kind of like Thing One and Thing Two. I also knew that I wanted to try and mate my beard with Zach’s in the hopes of breeding some sort of super beard. Not sure where I got that idea either, but again Zach went along with it and our beards “mated.” Unfortunately, while all this was going on, I was also drinking heavily and I got a little drunker than I probably should have. Zach admitted experiencing a similar problem. We were both nervous, albeit for different reasons, and we were using alcohol to mask our disquiet.
On paper, it’s a great interview. But I refuse to listen to the tape of the interview because I know I was a stupid, slobbering drunk idiot. After I conducted an interview with Jason Jessee a number of years ago, in which I was more or less blacked out and continually repeated the same questions over and over again, I made myself a rule: no more drunk interviews. I don’t think there is anything more depressing than having to transcribe an interview and listen to my drunk, alter ego, Darf slurring a bunch of stupid questions. Darf zux. And I know Darf came out that night at Zach’s house because I decided to show him, a perfect stranger, how to make a “Portland Frank.” Darf likes to impress people with his buffoonery.
Here is the recipe for a Portland Frank:
3 tbs. of mustard
1. Open the refrigerator door and pull out your penis. Bathe the penis in the light of the refrigerator until you get an erection.
2. Once erect, grab your penis like a hotdog and spread mustard all over it.
3. With your finger, take some of the mustard off your cock and spread it on your upper lip.
And that’s a Portland Frank.
After making Zach wear a union suit, raping his beard, and sticking my dick in his refrigerator, I thought it only fair that Zach should have some fun at my expense. I handed him a pair of clippers and said that he could do anything he wanted to my beard.
“Anything anything?” he asked.
“Yep,” I said. I was drunk. What’s the worst he could do? Well, he did pretty much the worst he could do: he shaved half my face and left me with half a beard. The right half, although either side is wrong. Zach was very pleased with his work.
I had had a sneaking suspicion he was going to do that. I had thought of the possibility earlier because I used to do something similar to my victims. When I lived in the dorms in college, we used to shave off one eyebrow of anyone who was foolish enough to pass out in the common area. It forces the victim to make an uncomfortable decision when they awake: do you shave off the other one to even it out, ala Terminator, or do you leave it as is and just wait for the missing one to grow back? Either way, you’re fucked. I believe that’s called a “fork” in chess?
So with half a beard, we all decided to visit Zach’s local bar. And that’s where the trouble began. While alcohol turned Darf into a total buffoon, it turned the filmer in our crew into an Olympic name-dropper. “Do you know this guy? Do you know that guy? I’m friends with that guy. Do you know some other guy that I sort of kind of know that says that he met you this one time?” Not sure why that shit is more embarrassing to me than showing people my tiny penis covered in mustard, but it is.
Some of Zach’s friends were also at the bar, so he politely excused himself and abandoned us to our own devices, and for good reason. We were annoying and I looked like a freak with my half beard. After a few more beers we decided to pack it in and leave. But when I got the bill, it was well over $100. We had five cans of Boddington’s between us. I called the bartender over to explain the charges, because the total was surely incorrect, but he was too busy or too much of a cocksucker to give me any explanation other than, “That’s what they cost.” Each can of beer costs $20-something dollars? Well, whatever, I thought, I was drunk, who cares? I paid the total with a credit card, but I intentionally left no tip.
As we were saying our goodbyes to Zach and his friends, the bartender walked all the way over to our table with the bill in his hand and asked if there was anything wrong. He suddenly had the time to talk to me! I told him, no, there was nothing wrong.
“Well I noticed you didn’t leave a tip,” he said, “so I was wondering why?”
He was being confrontational. Darf loves confrontation. Especially with some little fella in a white turtleneck sweater and an Andy Capp hat. He was wearing cologne and fancy sneakers.
“Well,” I said, “when I was wondering why the beers were so expensive, you said ‘That’s what they cost.’ So to answer your question as to why you don’t get a tip, it’s because that’s what you get.”
“Well as bartenders,” he said getting testy, “we make our living off of tips.”
“Well then maybe you should find a better job that you’re actually good at,” I said.
And that was it: FIGHT!
Fortunately, nothing of note happened and nobody got hurt. Probably because Darf can’t fight (even with a full beard) and what’s some twerp in a white turtleneck sweater going to do? I ended up on the sidewalk yelling at the owner and I was subsequently banned from Zach Galifianakis’s local bar for life. Wah.
It was that night that was in my head when Melcher was standing there in front of me at Footsies with the clippers asking, “Anything anything?”
“No, not anything anything,” I said to Melcher after thinking about it for a minute. Bad beards lead to trouble. “Do something stupid, but something that’s not completely stupid, you know what I mean?”
“Don’t be a pussy,” someone said.
I was less worried about myself than I was about Tania’s reaction. The old lady often disapproves of these kinds of shenanigans. She might laugh, or she might throw me out of the house. I never know.
They decided on the Abe Lincoln style, a cut that is technically referred to in beard circles as “The Whaler.” I suppose “The Whaler” sounds cooler, but why don’t they just call it “The Abe Lincoln,” everybody knows what that is? Anyway, it’s a rather simple procedure, but it produces a very dramatic result. We were all surprised that it came out as well as it did.
“It’s not bad,” Richie said holding his chin while surveying my face, which was now without a mustache. “It actually looks pretty good on you. Plus it goes with your whole Whale Cock thing.”
I was quite pleased with it. It was horrible, but not so horrible that I couldn’t get used to it while it grew back. I thought it was kind of funny. So when I entered my house, I had my shirt collar pulled up over my nose. A little surprise for my wife.
“HI-EEE!” I said when I saw her.
“Oh no,” she said seeing the shirt covering half my face. “What did you do?”
“Check it out!” I said. I pulled the shirt down to reveal my new beard. “I’m a whaler!”
“Get out,” she said.
1. To discover the name of your drunk alter ego, just take your name and slur it, garble it, or otherwise mispronounce it. Dave = Darf, for instance. Heather = Hubdur. Tania = Tanny.