Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces

When I was kid, there was this doll called Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces. The deal was that you could change this doll called Hugo's face as if he were a secret agent. Snap on a mustache, add some sideburns, slide on some glasses, and Hugo was a new man. Lately I've discovered that I'm the new Hugo in Stowe. Let me back up a bit.

For ten years I worked for FedEx. The rules at FedEx were simple: short hair, no beards. Toward the end, things began to change, and they loosened up on the beard rule, but they had to be neat and trimmed, which wasn't anything that interested me. Now fast forward to 2008, January: I leave FedEx, and my razor, behind. By April I had shoulder-length hair and a full, mostly red, beard. But this wasn't out of character for me.

After Chantal and I moved to France, in the early nineties, I grew a beard. I had a beard or mustache--I grow a great Viking mustache--off and on until I went to work for FedEx in 1998. I was even married in a mustache, something that didn't seem to bother my wife. But in Stowe, my varying facial hair seems to throw people off. Maybe it's the speed with which I grown hair. I'm of Irish extraction--100%--so most of my corpus delecti is hairless. Except my head. My noggin is like a Chia pet. It sprouts hair so fast a time-lapse camera isn't needed to see it grow. So I can literally change my look in less than two weeks.

It seems to confuse people around here. Folks I've known for a decade will walk right past me after I've grown a beard. Ditto after I've shaved it at Easter. This intrigues me because I'm always thinking about the face I present to folks checking into the inn. I try to imagine myself in their shoes as they walk through the front door. Do they want to see a shaved-head lunatic, or a soft-focus bearded Vermonter? Or am I crazy looking with a beard? I don't know, you tell me. I've posted a couple of pictures here for you to look at. I kind of like the bearded me, but I admit that once Easter comes, I shave it off. Send me an email and let me know.