Beards as a Coping Mechanism

In life, inevitably some people are going to be mean. Or unfair. Or just plain terrifying.

Sometimes this will take the form of a person stealing your parking space despite your indicator blinking furiously. As the realisation of this injustice dawns on you, your car’s face changes, the indicator morphing from a cheery ‘here’s where I’m going!’ into a crazed, homicidal tic. Other times, as happened to me once in year three, it will manifest itself as an angry note handed to you in class. I’m not exactly sure what I’d done to warrant the initial insult, but my self-declared ‘worst enemy’ was probably even more inclined to call me a “beach” after I’d corrected her spelling and grammar.

Either way, I learnt early on that it isn’t really a socially appropriate response to immediately kick someone in the shins, invite them to the Thunderdome, or to aggressively cry at them.  So, you instead have to turn to coping mechanisms.

What school wanted, at least at one point, was for us to go to that week’s ‘class mediator’ and calmly explain our problem. The mediator would then look at it from a detached point of view, and help us work through our issues.  Good in theory, though in reality this plan went much the same way as ‘the class postal system’ and ‘the friendship seat’.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted it, or when it started, but over time I developed my own way to cope with irritations, injustices and people who were just douchebags. You can’t really take physical measures, or even a lot of the time, verbal measures, so what that leaves you with is psychology. So, I would simply picture whoever it was with an outrageous beard.

For the most part, it worked well. The more ridiculous or flamboyant the beard, the better. If you’re going home after a hard day of someone telling ridiculous lies or stealing your half white half blue eraser it’s hard to dwell on it if the perpetrator is sporting a magnificent handlebar moustache with accompanying goatee. Similarly, having a dubious “out” called on you in an intense game of chasey matters significantly less if ‘It’ is half hidden behind a Gimli beard.

Sure, it came with a few side effects. Inappropriate laughter could occasionally happen, and it was best to do it only transiently, lest you get that prolonged glazed eye look which makes people nervous, but otherwise it was a fairly harmless coping mechanism.

It doesn’t work anymore though.

I have a few theories as to why. Possibly the hilarity of mental beard-addedness was compounded by the fact that I went to an all-girls school and so facial hair wasn’t really a thing. Secondly I have since finished school, and am now (physically) older than 12, and as such:

a) know people who aren’t female
b) some of these people have beards.

Sure, outrageous beards are still hilarious, and I still enjoy the World Beard and Moustache Championships as much as the next person (the next person being Captain Jack Sparrow). Normal beards however, have become just that: normal. So, now ‘Beards as a Coping Mechanism’ is not such a winning technique.

It lapsed gradually, so as yet, I haven’t replaced it with anything. However, as I suspect ‘42’ for once isn’t going to help me here, I’m strongly leaning towards Star Wars for inspiration.

So, flash forward a few months: to the man who just cut five places in the line next to me – I’m not staring at you. I’m starting at your Amidala-face.


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