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Davis, California

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Column: Handlebars

I guess I’ll preface this column by apologizing for how all over the place it will probably sound. I attribute this to the fact that I’m currently locked in my room trying to write while my roommates are in the living room screaming about “The Bachelorette.” As much as it pains me to feed into female stereotypes by admitting that, I felt it was necessary because I can’t even hear myself think.

I love all my roommates, but one of them has the tendency to emit high-pitched screams when her favorite reality TV shows are on. This is basically every Monday through Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. Windows crack, the neighborhood dogs howl and gigantic guinea pigs appear to destroy all of Davis. If you haven’t seen the “Pandemic” episode of “South Park,” that last part probably didn’t make any sense. That’s okay. I laughed.

Anyway, there’s apparently a commercial break (or they’re dead?), so I’m going to take advantage of the silence.

And so it begins.

Being that this is my second-to-last column of the year, I brainstormed many a topic for this week. First on my list, though, was facial hair. Yes, of all things, I’ve been meaning to talk about facial hair for a while now.

Why is facial hair so awkward? A guy that sprouts a hefty beard is a champion among mortals, but if I ever walked into a bar with a little ‘stache going on, I’d probably get stuff thrown at me.

Sure, it’s not even possible for me to grow a mustache. I’m a blonde, white chick so I’m pretty sure if I did, you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. My point isn’t so much that it’s looked down upon for a girl to be hairy, but more so that it’s amusing to me how much respect an extremely hairy man can earn.

My boyfriend is probably the hairiest guy in the entire western hemisphere. My justification for his fuzziness stems from his mother’s birth in Alaska. He probably inherited some gene from his mom that decided he needed a natural sweater to ward of those cold, Alaskan nights.

Unfortunately, his genetics did not foresee that he would be born and raised in California. That sweater only serves an adaptive purpose about two months out of the year.

This theory of mine is probably total garbage because 1) I’m a social science major and 2) I’ve barely survived every science class I’ve ever had to take.

Regardless, CJ is a hairy guy and I don’t mind it one bit. Trust me, he doesn’t mind it, either. This is because he’s one of those “highly respected hairy men” I was referring to earlier. Seriously.

I remember the first time I introduced him to my friends and roommates. My house was having a party, and CJ shaved his thick, black beard into a handlebar mustache just for the occasion. What better introduction, right?

“Hey, that’s the guy I’m dating,” I’d say. “No, the one next to him … with the handlebars … drinking Jack.”

I personally thought the first impression was perfect. I guess that’s where me and some other girlfriends would differ.

Throughout the night, complete strangers would walk up to CJ and high-five him. A few even pulled on his whiskers in disbelief and/or admiration. Yup, that thing was real. CJ made more friends at that party than anyone else purely because of the ridiculous hair on his face. He looked like an actor from an old Western movie, or even an adult film. I guess sometimes those are one in the same.

Based on that situation alone, I have come to determine that facial hair is perceived as some kind of positive status symbol to a lot of men. I won’t say ALL men (I hate broad generalizations), but I can’t deny that CJ received many expressions of appreciation that night – and that has to mean something.

The handlebar mustache made another appearance on Picnic Day, too. I remember drunkenly crossing a street with a group of my friends and CJ. A car full of guys honked at us, and I naturally assumed it was because my friends looked especially cute and sassy in their Picnic Day garb.

Instead, the driver shouted, “Your mustache is awesome!” and all his passengers started cheering. A random passerby in the crosswalk muttered, “It is pretty awesome,” as we passed.

I guess I’m really just wondering what the female equivalent of facial hair would be. What cool natural asset do women possess that earns just as much respect? Right after I typed that, I realized what a lot of guys would probably respond with. Eww. Knock it off.

Anyway, I guess that’s all I’ve got on the facial hair front. It’s a weird phenomenon I’ll never completely understand. However, I want to extend a quick thank you to a reader I met at Froggy’s on Friday night who helped me attempt to understand and brainstorm the topic. Also, here’s a quick thank you to CJ for letting me write about his hairiness. At least I didn’t crack any jokes about sticking you to Velcro or how we dreaded your leg hair that one time.

AMANDA HARDWICK was pleasantly surprised at how many people asked for pictures of Butters last week. If you want a picture of CJ’s mustache, too, shoot her an e-mail at aghardwick@ucdavis.edu.

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