Dear Uptight Seattleite,
Over the past six months, I have grown myself a nice full beard. My girlfriend at first said she supported the decision, but now the tension is growing with the length of my Garibaldi. She's an amazing girl, and I don't want to break up, but I can't get myself to shave the beard either. Is there any way to compromise?Kenny "Bob Seger" Rogers
Dear Kenny "Bob Seger" Rogers,
I'm sorry, but I have to "get down on you" a little bit here. Beards: Good God y'all, what are they good for? See how I just flipped the meaning of the phrase "get down"? The meaning of a beard can flip on you the same way. And it is this flippiness that dangles at the center of your conflict with your girlfriend, like the uvula at the center of your throat.
But to first answer the above musical question, beards are actually good for quite a lot. For one, a beard can be a sign of solidarity. Many black men have beards, and you can, too, giving you license to exchange a soulful nod with any bearded black man you pass on the street. Beards also voice a full-throated defiance to jingoists who associate beards only with terrorists. "Broaden those minds!" beards scream. Beards are also heavily associated with 1970s dads, whose importance looms greater every day. Not to mention college professors, who can rock a beard like nobody's business. And that's not even counting the men. Just kidding, lady professors! I'll see you later on democraticsingles.net, OK?
But what I want you to do for me right now, Kenny Bob, is to put down the phone and go look in the mirror. Your beard has flipped, hasn't it? Where it was once Al Pacino–like, it's now Charles Manson–y. The solution lies in these two words: neatly trimmed. These are the words you read when an author is being interviewed in his Upper East Side apartment: "tan slacks, black sweater, and an easy, ironic smile flashing at unexpected moments from behind his neatly trimmed beard." Not that we go in for all those fancy trappings here in Comfy Land, but even in our familiar ol' stained REI jackets and sport sandals, we know how to appreciate the intellectual glamour of well-maintained facial hair.
A man's first beard is like a fountain of power that he didn't know he had. It's natural to want to see exactly how much power you've got in there. But remember this week's key words and flip on your trimmers, flip your beard's look back to the urbane virility that attracted your girlfriend's initial support, and flip back on the light of harmony in your house.
Dear Uptight Seattleite,
You know how sometimes when you quit out of Microsoft Word or Internet Explorer or something, for some reason the program gets stuck, until finally you get a little gray box that offers to send an "error report" to Microsoft? Of course no one ever does, because who wants more hassle at that point? But I'm wondering what this error report consists of, and where it goes.The Other Kind of P.C.
Dear Other Kind,
Deep in a sub-basement of Building 121 on the Microsoft campus, there is a dark room at the end of a dark corridor. The Chamber of Errors. There sits the Error Report Intern, strapped in a chair beneath a heavy rubber mallet. Whenever anyone sends an error report, a siren sounds, orange lights flash, and a speaker in the wall screams "Error! Error! Error!" while the mallet beats in time on the head of the intern. The system is rigged so that the harder you click that "Send Error Report" button, the harder the mallet falls on the skull of that fresh-faced young UW graduate from Aberdeen.
If you sit in a particular booth in the Building 121 cafeteria and listen very carefully, you can just barely make out the muffled blows of the mallet and the moaning of the intern. You might also hear from an intern in an adjoining chamber who's beaten about the face and neck with a cardboard tube every time a Windows security patch is issued. Don't worry about those interns, though. They are released at the end of their tenure with 100 shares of Microsoft stock and a free Zune.
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