How I Measure My Leisure

crispydoc Uncategorized 8 Comments

On our recent three-week trip through Greece, I chose not to bring my electric shaver.

The dirtbag traveler in me, the one that takes pleasure out of proportion in packing as little as necessary as lightly as possible, wanted to ditch the added few ounces and volume the shaver would add to my pack.

The scientist in me wanted to test a hypothesis by conducting an experiment involving the longest period I’ve gone without shaving in my adult life. Namely, to determine if after three weeks I would not still resemble Valdis, the Latvian exchange student who (along with my brother) co-founded the chess club at my high school.

Valdis, daring to be different, cultivated what looked like a permanent milk mustache above his upper lip that my diffident high school self did not understand. I read it to mean either, “Girls in my country find this sexy, like Levi’s and Metallica,” or “Girls in my country do not care, so long as I have successful career, they will love mustache anyway.”

According to my former yearbook teacher who hosted him, Valdis apparently went on to found an incredibly successful tech support company several years after returning to Latvia, selling it for several million Euros.

That brings the score to barely hirsute adolescent Latvian one, smooth-faced Californians beach rat, zero.

Valdis’ facial hair reminded me of a single existing photo of my father I’d seen framed at my maternal grandparents’ house. My father was in his mid-twenties, holding plump one-year-old me on his lap, and sporting an epic failure of a mustache, like Tom Selleck if Magnum P.I. had failure to thrive.

(If I did not know my maternal grandfather to be a kind man, I’d suspect it was his way of publicly shaming my father.)

My father never again tried to grow facial hair. So this experiment was my chance to reclaim the lost honor of my family. To never utter the blatant lie, “Really? I had no idea the guys in LA County Fire, EMS and the ED were all supporting Movember again this year!”

But the best reason came out of a discussion with my wife, who fortunately thinks stubble imbues me with a vaguely roguish charm.

(Caveat: She may have a lower bar for what passes as roguish; “It drives me wild when you part your hair on the opposite side!” I jest, honey, I jest.).

Why not just leave it and grow a full beard when we return home, she asked, after I mentioned my plan to go stubble only when I had my next shift. It was a totally reasonable question.

I realized that my facial hair is actually a personal metric. I deliberately don’t shave on my days off, barring professional meetings and milestone events.

Talking to my wife made me realize I do this because my beard is a measure of how much I feel I’ve gotten away with during a particular stretch of time.

It’s a measure of leisure. If I can structure my life correctly, the guy in the mirror looks more like a vagabond than a corporate Joe. That’s a self-affirmation I look forward to every day.

As a parting gift, I’m linking to a tangentially pertinent video below that’s one of my favorite spoofs of the 1980s Austrian singer Falco, purveyor of Eastern European underground club synthesizer pop back when that was a thing.

Falco’s bizarre English and German lyrics in songs like Der Kommissar and Rock Me Amadeus still bring back delightful memories of high school dances, and the videos (this was the peak of MTV influence) were weirder still.

Here’s an original Falco video for comparison:

Yes, kids, we loved these songs back in the day. Can’t explain why, but even the Simpsons writers paid Falco homage.

How do you measure your leisure?

Comments 8

  1. Full disclosure: we are a low-income family, and quite frankly, will probably always be. Now that I got that out of the way, please know that I am also a dedicated follower of your blog, for one primary reason…..your frequent references/examples of ’80s and ’90s music. Keep it coming!🤘

    1. Post

      Mrs. Thompson, you are incredibly kind to encourage my weirdness. You will always be welcome here, and there’s plenty of unusual music obsession yet to come. My kids, you’ll be pleased to learn, know all the lyrics to the “Beard, No Beard” Falco spoof and spontaneously break out singing it at least once a week – reminding me why I wanted to have kids in the first place.

      Glad to have your company,


  2. Since I retired I religiously shave every week except if we get a hurricane. I look like that cat from Orange County Choppers. It’s my feature. I guess by the time Falco hit the scene I’d moved on to JaZz. I remember. Fahren Fahren Fahren auf die autobahn (endlessly driving on the road).

    1. Post

      I checked out the Orange County Choppers guy – that’s some legit facial hair you must have going on, Gasem.

      Whether Kraftwerk or Falco, we all have a repertoire of eccentric German musicians who invaded our youth with memorably bizarre creations. It’s a small forgotten spark in your soul, and when rekindled, it oozes nostalgia in the best of ways.

  3. The similarities we share CD are eerie. I too choose not to shave on my days off (which makes me shudder to think what I might look like when I do eventually FIRE).

    I did have a goatee in medical school and throughout my former marriage. I had put on quite a bit of weight being in a unhappy marriage and I thought the goatee broke the visual chubbiness up into sections giving the illusion of a slimmer face.

    After the divorce and my financial/emotional/physical transformation, I shaved my face and never revisited the look again.

    1. Post


      Dirtbag twins separated at birth – I like it!

      My biggest surprise, as someone accustomed to being told he looks younger than stated age, was the number of gray hairs that sprouted on my chin over those three weeks. When I noted my first gray chest hair one morning, I pointed to my kids in an accusatory manner and said, “YOU did this.” They ignored me and kept on wrestling, as if my voice were the “Wa-wa” of the Charlie Brown teacher character.

      I shaved down to stubble this morning before my 6a shift. I look forward to the luxury of letting it grow back as I arrange more free time…

      May you never have reason to revisit traumatic facial hair again, my friend.

  4. Hi Crispy Doc! I really got a kick out of this post and honestly it made chuckle more than once thinking about it while on service this past week. So, I figured I would come back and leave a comment. For me, I find that my beard is actually inversely correlated with how busy at work I am. With a bunch of hectic consecutive days on service, shaving is the first thing to go for me. This actually works out well since as I get scruffier looking, people just start naturally giving me a wider berth. Or maybe it’s the showering 🙂 It is these types of quirky thoughts and posts like you are writing here that help us to keep our sense of humour [notice I spelt humour the proper Canadian way with a “u” in it]. I think those eccentricities really do help to combat burn-out. Please keep them coming!

    1. Post


      I suspect we were dropped on our heads (in the pre-CT era) by the same parents. I suspect if you break your arm, mine will begin to hurt, too.

      I like the beard growth as disincentive to interrupt plan. It reminds me slightly of Rick Steves’ advice in “Europe Through the Back Door” of what to do if you unwittingly find yourself in a sketchy neighborhood late at night: untuck your shirt, muss up your hair, take on a menacing limp and mumble to yourself as you walk through the area.

      Appreciate your colourful comments as always, you hoser. Trying to be Canadian-friendly, and for some odd reason, all American youth (clearly using the term loosely) of my generation know Canada through the McKenzie brothers, your most apt and representative cultural ambassadors.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.