About a month ago I decided to not shave for an entire week while hunting. I came home and got the usual response from my wife and kids- they didn't like it. My wife doesn't like beards, she hates the way it feels when I give her a little smooch. My boys, who still have babyfaces, don't like the whisker-feel on their faces either when we wrestle and/or snuggle. So, like a scolded hound, I marched upstairs to shave.
Then...a rush of testosterone came over me. I realized that I must take back my manhood and assert my right to have facial hair, without giving up kissing my wife or snuggling with my kids. So, I shaved everything off except a little patch of whiskers under my lower lip. It would be my statement of independence, dominion, and lordship.
At first I didn't say anything and waited for my wife to notice. A day went by until she said something, and the response wasn't all that bad. She wasn't impressed, yet she didn't refuse a small peck on the cheek. She probably figured I would shave it off in a day or two. One obstacle seemed to be down. It was a couple days before my boys could tell I was consciously growing something on my face. In the midst of one of our wrestling matches, I rubbed my face all over Jordan's face-he's the most sensitive of the three- and no negative reaction was noted- the patch of whiskers seemed not to make significant contact with his cheeks.
It was then I realized- the small patch of facial hair below my lower lip and above my chin could stay...no...it had to.
The first Sunday at church would be a sizable test. Being a pastor is something like having hundreds of siblings and parents- all older and watching what you are doing. Would my congregation notice? I admit, I'm a pretty plain looking dude that doesn't care too much about styles, especially as it relates to various physical fads and such. My hair has been the same since I was a kid (I look like Buckwheat if it grows any longer), I've never had facial hair of any sort, I really don't try to be noticed stylistically. I don't want to be a total nerd, but I'm not looking to be Georgio Armani either. I think people want their pastor to be somewhat unnoticeable in the style department- don't embarrass the congregation by being a nerd or by being Benny Hinn- both extremes must be avoided. Anyways, I was curious to see who would notice my new "beard". Very interestingly, many women commented on it. Most made fun of me! I was shocked at the lack of respect my sisters in Christ showed their pastor. One woman asked me, "what are you growing there"? When I told her "a little beard", she said- "you should stick to growing tomatoes"! Wow. I was amazed by the ease with which these female congregants dissed me over my beard. Almost no men said anything, which didn't surprise me too much- it's not cool for guys to comment on what another dude is wearing, let alone what he does to his hair or beard. After Sunday number one with the new beard, I admit, I was a little shaken about my new look. Some of the ladies had gotten to me. A breakthrough occurred when one of the elders asked me- "Hey Tony, is that a soul patch"? "Hmmm..." I thought. A soul patch. Is that what you call this? Suddenly, I felt my new identity was taking shape. My confidence, which had been so shaken by the women of my church, was coming back a bit because of one brother in Christ secure enough in his masculinity to comment on my new growth.
A soul patch- I immediately looked up this term for my facial hair growth. I came across a very insightful article by Locke Peterseim that captured the meaning of sporting a soul patch perfectly:
The soul patch is the "I meant to do that" of facial hair. Unlike a Grizzly Adams/Ted Kaczynski full-on beard, the soul patch doesn't require a lot of scratching or checking for ticks. And unlike geometrically correct goatees, it doesn't say, "I'm on Satan's team." Instead, a soul patch says things like, "I'm cool" or "I'm a little rebellious" or "I'm sensitive" or "I'm a little hung up on myself" or "I can grow hair right there on that spot right below my lip, and some of my friends can't."
This largely described my sentiments toward my soul patch. Reading Peterseim helped my soul patch swagger to gain strength, I was now ready to face the women of the church on the second Sunday. My swagger wasn't the only thing that had grown, my soul patch was a week fuller- and for us Sicilians, that means a fully mature patch of hair. So, I entered the premises wondering what comments awaited. Some of the same people that commented the first week did so again, but this time a bit weaker, for they knew their initial attack had not influenced me to shave it off. My strength was gaining, and their power was weakening! Then, in a moment of final triumph for my beard-keeping will, a different elder piped up- "Tony, are you growing a soul patch"? "Why yes...yes I am," I responded with full vigor and authority. Several other biting comments came forth regarding my soul patch, mostly from sisters, on the Lord's Day, November 2, but they no longer had the same kind of impact as that first Sunday. Too much strength had been gained, too much confidence had set in, my will was now set like flint. My soul patch was now established, no assault of church womankind or any other offender could dissuade me now. The soul patch and I were now one.
I wonder what kind of reaction an earring would get?