Saturday, November 01, 2003

I have a kind of love affair with facial hair, my own and other guys'. I think it is very sexy and I am always attracted if the cut and style is creative or very individual. I'm a real sucker for goatees because I always want to kiss the mouth that's in that frame.

I change my own every six months or so. It's not so much a radical change--although that has happened on some occasions--but a gradual evolution as sideburns lengthen or begin to come forward or beards develop as to shape and

About 18 months ago I took up the soul patch and the variety of shapes and sizes that has developed into have been really amusing, particularly when the partner asked me with a gleam in his eye NOT to get rid of it. He's still so ga-ga over me after more than six years that he is very indulgent about these things, even the tattoos that he really isn't into but accepts for my sake. (He did draw the line at body piercings beyond the nipple ring he has come to enjoy playing with. He said he didn't want any metal in his body and sensed I might be moving toward a Prince Albert. I could certainly understand that --I'm still so ga-ga over him).

Anyway, it turns out that he liked the feel of that little brush of chin hair in certain places during certain activities. He's been hinting strongly that a full beard would be even more enjoyable but I prefer a wider range of styles to choose from. The chin hair, however, pleases us both in visual and tactile ways and has drawn compliments from some unexpected sources.

We were in San Francisco airport during the summer of 2002 on our way back from a superb three weeks in Australia and had reserved a car. A hip, extroveted and completely charming young Asian-American woman was behind the counter and she immediately said, "Oh, I love your gooch." I was stunned. I will gladly--joyously--accept compliments about anything at any time but I had no idea exactly what a gooch was, let alone my personal gooch. "My what?" I had almost blurted out "You mean, as in Agnes Gooch?" but I knew she was eons too young for that "Auntie Mame" reference. So she reached out and lightly touched my chin. "Your gooch, your chin fur--it's really cool."

Now in the months after I had started with an innocent little triangle of stubble just below the center of my lower lip, my gooch had grown downwards into what I had believed was at one time called a skidmark. (I teach university students, so I hear these things. I have even noted that in today's metrosexual climate, student gatherings are full of girls talking about their ice hockey stats and boys trading hair dye and tip frosting advice). The gooch (or skidmark--or maybe skooch?) is of a length and proportion that, in fact, looks very good in combination with my facial structure. And since both the partner and I are inveterate flirters with bright young women who most surely know that we're gay and are having a lot of fun flirting back, we spent a giggly ten minutes or so before getting down to the unlimited mileage, the gas tank refill option and the best route to the Napa Valley.

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