So there I was in the bathroom, attending to my morning ablutions, when I caught sight of myself in the mirror and recoiled violently. Fine, I’m no Brad Pitt its true, but still, that doesn’t usually happen. Anyway, after steadying my nerves, I dared to take a second peek, this time checking out my face from every angle I could contort it into. What confronted me was not a pretty sight.
Let me explain. I have, for about six weeks now, been sporting a beard. And even if I do say so myself it’s a rather dapper adornment. I know this because it has been the subject of occasional favorable remarks from females. The words “chiseled” and “jaw line” have even been mentioned in the same sentence.
But being, as I am, untutored in the ways of beard maintenance – like so many things, a skill that is no longer passed down the generations - I made a schoolboy error on that fateful morning. While it was true for the sake of common decency my hirsute lower face needed trimming, in haste I chose the wrong setting on my new electric shaver and promptly rendered the whiskers more akin to designer stubble.
It was then the heinous image was revealed. A post-shave glance showed what appeared to be a silhouette lurking beneath my chin, but what, on closer inspection, could only be some kind of precursor to a double chin. Something that, at a future point, will hang low and wobble every time I shake my head in disapproval, which lets face it, is a lot.
To say this shook me to my core is an understatement. Why me? Why now?
I’ve pondered these questions and simply can’t comprehend them. It wasn’t there six weeks ago when I started the growing process – I know, I would have noticed it … I’m sensitive to these things. And the thing I really can’t understand is the fact that I actually lost weight in the time I had the beard as I’d been training for a running race.
So why has my body decided to punish me like this? OK, I occasionally overload it with alcohol and the wrong types of food, but I also exercise it, rest it, culturally and intellectually nourish it, grant it carnal pleasures and generally nurture it in a loving and holistic way. It doesn’t make sense.
And what is worst, the situation has got me wondering if really, this is not an isolated incident at all. If instead, it is just the latest in an ongoing process of deterioration which hitherto vanity had prevented me from acknowledging. Along with the receding hairline, dodgy eyesight, crumpling skin, forgetfulness, and a host of other failings, the threat of a double chin is just the latest biological missive whispering to me that one day I will die, and it is downhill all the way to that moment. Like tinnitus – from which I also suffer due to my formative years in heavy metal bands and too many grim, northern night clubs - it is always there but most noticeable in moments of quiet reflection, generally depressing and is only going to get worse.
So what is to be done? Well, clearly I’m going to start that skin routine I’ve always been on about, because, you know, I’m worth it. And the crystal meth certainly has to go - I don’t care how good looking you were to start off with, that stuff is always going to take the edge off your complexion (that’s a joke mother, I don’t really take crystal meth). But beyond that the best course of action is to grow the beard back and avoid mirrors at all costs as, without some kind of surgery, it’s a lost cause.
I suppose at this rate, if the eyesight holds out, it won’t be so long until I’m undertaking my morning ablutions when I glance in the mirror to see my toothless, decrepit grandfather staring back at me. I don’t expect I’ll have sufficient range of movement to recoil violently then. Hopefully I’ll just remember writing this and smile because, no matter how ugly I have grown by that point, at least it is an image I would much rather get the opportunity to see than not, either with or without a double chin.