My Grateful Beard has disappeared

I spent much of February 2015 growing a beard. It originally grew out of the hockey-related idea of a playoff beard.
If you keep a routine that does not allow for shaving to intrude, the thinking goes, it will somehow create a benefit for one’s team. Or at least it allows you to share the experience with others who do the same silly thing.

I called this phenomenon the Grateful Beard, since it grew out of a waiting to see if I was going to get tickets to one of the reunion/farewell shows the Grateful Dead is playing this summer in Chicago.

I’ve been to four Dead shows over the years, with the last one being almost 22 years ago now. Four shows isn’t much by some standards, but most people haven’t even been to one show, so I’m happy to be as experienced as I am. For a rock lifer like me, hearing Jerry and his band play live confers some degree of street cred that few other bands can match.

Jerry Garcia once said that the trick is not to do something better than everyone else does it, but to do something that no one else is doing. The band was singular in their time, and that shows in what will surely be a hyper-crazy demand to be a part of the three shows this summer. this is a one-time thing, and I want in.

But as I posted previously, the mail order didn’t work out, and my money order arrived in the mail a few days ago. I took one last picture of my Grateful Beard, complete with a legitimate touch of gray in it, and shaved it off yesterday morning.

Now that the Beard is no more, I understand that it–like the Dead shows this summer–was a unique and singular experience. Never again will my whiskers depend on the content of my mailbox. So even though my efforts did not lead to the miracles I had been seeking, I still had some way of marking the time along the way. It’s a small thing, but I am memorializing it here, all the same.

Here’s hoping that the telephone and Internet sale this morning leads to greater success than the mail order did. What I can say confidently is that no Beard will be grown during this process.


Doing my part for hockey


Baseball is always going to come first for me, in terms of sports interest. Other sports may get a momentary interest as well–as the NBA did in the Bird/Magic/Jordan era, but they’ll never be the game of my youth, or the sport I can talk to my family about. But since the off season still has another month to go until Opening day, I may as well see what else is going on.

The Olympics caught my attention for a brief moment this winter, and not because of the skating or the half pipe or anything like that. I found myself drawn to hockey, especially when the United States team beat the Russians. I reminisced for a bit about Lake Placid and the 1980 games, and hoped that the American team could do equally as well this time around. I realized then that the big bad enemy was no longer the Soviets, but the Canadians. When the women’s hockey team lost the goal medal to Canada, I challenged the men’s team to do better by beating or Northern neighbors. But alas, this did not happen. I then pointed out that it was win the final game and take the bronze medal, or lose and go home empty handed. The Americans chose the latter course, unfortunately.

It’s now a week after the Sochi games have ended. There’s no March Madness to follow yet, and the NBA is long past its resonance with me, and I know that there are many other endeavors that do not involve sports at all. But as a sports-centered American, I need to fill my attention with some sort of game involving athletic competition. I may move beyond this one day, but it hasn’t happened yet.

The NHL–the professional league of a sport I’ve never really been too interested in–staged an outdoor game at Soldier Field last night. I didn’t watch that much of it, and I didn’t even care too much about who wan the game, but I know a good event when I see one. The outdoors, the snow, the skyline of Chicago, and all the rest of it was as good a way as any to celebrate this terrible winter we’ve been dealing with this year. So I wrote a few words remarking on what a good thing it was for hockey, and for the NHL, and for the exposure it brought to the amazing city that I call home.

That’s more hockey writing in the past few weeks than I’ve ever done before, and likely more than I ever will do again. But it was fun while it lasted, this dalliance with a sport that’s a bit too North-woodsy for me. ¬†Hopefully the Blackhawks will give me a reason to get back into it come June, even if baseball will be in full swing by then. I’ll be sure to write about it if that happens, too.