My Upper Lip and Me

There’s a picture of my upper lip. Your clicking has already paid off. You can gaze at my naked upper face. People would pay money for such an experience. And here you’ve gotten it for free.

But, alas, this is a blog. And the kind of blogging I do is about words. Not pictures. So here comes some words.

Why a picture of my upper lip? Well, kind reader, I did the unthinkable last week. I shaved my goatee off.

“What happened to your beard?” my son Samson asked me when I came out of the bathroom. He’s five.

“It fell off.”

“Oh,” Samson said. He looked at the ground.

I didn’t actually fall off. I decided, on a whim, to hack the thing off with a razor. It took quite a lot of shaving cream. My facial hair grows in gnarly tufts. Not to be confused with gnarly Tafts (see the 27th president of these United States).

A goatee has adorned my face for the better part of the past twenty years. Sure, sometimes inspiration strikes and I chop it off. But I usually grow it right back. I feel naked without it. My goatee has become something of a companion as I’ve traveled through this early part of the 21st century.

But I was bored. And all this isolation has left me antsy. So snip snip. Shave shave. And there’s my upper lip.


“What did you do?” my wife Katie asked skeptically.


A dark look came over her face.

My wife doesn’t like me without a goatee. I can’t say I blame her. I don’t like me without a goatee either. I mean, look at that chin. No, seriously, scroll up and look at that chin. It’s a round porpoise. An engorged walrus. Better to keep it disguised.

I followed my own advice and scrolled up to survey my chin. In order to come up with those metaphors (and oh, what metaphors they are). I couldn’t help but rest my eyes on that stubble on my cheeks. Salt and pepper. Yes, my hair still grows in gnarly tufts (not to be confused with gnarly Tafts), but the follicles are a decidedly different color than they were at the turn of this 21st century. No man can stop the passage of time. Woman, either. And don’t get me started on those nose hairs! Scroll up and look if you dare. I’m told that old man have tufts of hair sprouting from their noses and ears. Tafts, too. I guess I’m started to trend in that direction. #TaftsOfHair. What a satirical rogue. If only, like a crab, I could go backward.

I promise I didn’t just have a nervous breakdown. I’m just quoting Hamlet. I do that quite a bit these days. Must be a symptom of surviving this pandemic. Along with baring my upper lip.

You want to know what Mark Twain had to say about beards? Too bad, here it is:

“A beard performs no useful function; it is a nuisance and a discomfort; all nations hate it; all nations persecute it with the razor.”

M. Twain

I like Mark Twain. But I’ll agree to disagree. A goatee has served me well over the years. It has very functionally disguised the obese manatee that is my chin.

The funniest part of these metaphors? I actually don’t think they’re accurate. My chin looks fine. I’m not insecure about it at all. I just prefer having a goatee.


This blog has been very much like Mark Twain’s description of a beard: It has performed no useful function and may, in fact, be a nuisance and a discomfort to all who read it. I mean, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve just spent this quick read ruminating on my upper lip with me. What a strange thing to do. I guess I’m really scratching the bottom of the barrel this week. It’s hard to share stories with you when most of my life happens in the confines of my own home. Denmark’s a prison, I guess. I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams. And a naked upper lip.

Forgive me, I’m quoting Hamlet again. This blog really is trending further and further towards nonsense.

I guess I’m blogging about dreams, then, which are the children of an idle brain, born from nothing but frivolous imaginations. That’s not something Hamlet says. That’s Mercutio. The two always felt similar to me.

I promise I’m no Shakespearean scholar. And celebrating these canonical authors is not really part of my playbook. But I can’t pretend to be anything I’m not. I’m just a 40 year-old English major who shaved his beard off and spent a Saturday morning writing about it. Feel free to scroll back up and take one last gander at those tufts of hair. Or Tafts. Or whatever else you can find in that image. And then go about your day, safe in the knowledge that you’ve just engaged in what the next president of these United States might describe as malarkey.

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