by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
April 9, 2006
AT LEAST I'M NOT CHEWING MY TOENAILS
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- My wife claims that I have a particularly nasty habit that she claims is "disgusting" and "gross." I, on occasion, will chew on my beard.
In my defense, I only have a goatee, and I keep it neat, groomed, and clean. And yes, I sometimes gently nibble on a few strands in a thoughtful and contemplative manner. Much in the same way that other men smoke a pipe, stroke their chins, or fall asleep in front of the television.
But my wife expresses such horror and outrage at my habit that you'd think I was some long-bearded wildman trying to suck the remnants of last week's dinner from the fringes.
The problem is it's an unconscious habit. Most of the time I'm not even aware I'm doing it. I usually find myself gnawing away while I'm driving or working on my computer. And now that my wife has brought it to my attention ? numerous times ? I'm worried that I might accidentally start doing it when I'm in an important meeting, like with the president of the Extremely Rich Germophobes Foundation.
I try to keep my beard trimmed to avoid chomping on it at inopportune moments, but I stillfind an errant section stuck in my mouth from time to time. But it's a weird habit to have, when you consider that I also have a strong aversion to finding a loose, unknown hair in my mouth.
There's nothing worse than sitting down to a nice meal, and finding a hair in my food. The only thing worse is when the food is in my mouth, half-chewed. Then I want to run screaming from the table to sterilize my mouth with rubbing alcohol and lava soap.
Instead I repress a shudder and pull the offending strand from my mouth. More often than not, it turns out to be one of my mustache hairs.
But sometimes it's a longer hair, and I'm nearly apoplectic in my revulsion. I can't spit fast enough, hard enough, or far enough to expel the disgusting thing.
I usually accuse my wife of being the donor and tell her she can't complain about me chewing my beard, when she apparently has no problem with me chewing on her own hair.
She points out that she's not a blond with pink highlights, which sends me into new waves of revulsion. Ewwwww!
I can pinpoint exactly when I developed this near-phobia.
I was in high school, way before I ever had a mustache or beard, and I had been on a date with a girl. We were kissing, when I realized I had a hair in my mouth. I actually hesitated for a minute as questions raced through my head: Where the ^$! did that come from? Do I stop and pull it out? Should I even make a big deal about it? What if it's hers? Is it rude to push it into her mouth?
I finally just stopped and pulled the thing out, sticking my tongue out and grabbing at it until I removed it. I didn't bother looking to see whose it was ? I assumed it was hers ? and we went back to what we were doing. But the moment was ruined. We sort of trailed off, she mumbled something about having a text the next day (in July?), and that was the end of the date.
We never went out again. I'd like to think it was because we weren't compatible. Or that her boyfriend came back early from summer vacation. Or that her family moved to Wyoming the following week.
But deep down, I've always known it was that stupid hair. It turned what could have been a shallow two week high school relationship complete with two hour phone calls and cute baby talk nicknames that secretly make me sick into a single slobbery date.
I suppose I could argue that if it hadn't been for that little hair, my life might have taken a completely different direction. I should be grateful for that errant little follicle, because I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't stopped to remove it.
And that's actually a pretty good idea. I could carry it one step further and argue that if I continued to chew my beard, I could become rich someday. Then my wife couldn't accuse me of being disgusting. By chewing on my beard in a thoughtful manner, I could come up with an invention that would change the world. Something that would save lives and make me fabulously wealthy.
Something that -- ooh boy, barbecue sauce from last night's dinner.