COLUMN: Decision time: to shave or not to shave?

Opinion Oct 12, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve had a beard for almost half my life. Before that, I had huge mutton chop sideburns, and before that I was a smooth-cheeked boy.

In fact, if you haven’t known me for at least 25 years you’ve likely never seen me clean shaven. (There was a two-week period at university when I needed to be clean shaven for a play, but that was the last time large parts of my face ever saw the sun.) It’s been so long that I’m no longer sure what I look like without a beard.

However, I may soon find out.

As part of Fire Prevention Week, I accepted an invitation from the Hamilton fire department to participate in an afternoon of hands-on fire-fighting activities. When I went to the training facility to get fitted for my bunker gear I was also put through a respirator test to ensure that the mask would seal properly to my face.

Needless to say, it didn’t.

So that means if I want to fully participate (and I can’t trim my beard short enough), I’m going to have to shave.

It’s a prospect that I’m finding more than a little disconcerting. I do think I look good with a beard, but this isn’t mere vanity.

For me, my beard is as much a part of my face as my nose, eyes or mouth, and the thought not having it there, even for a few weeks, just seems unnatural. I imagine reaching up to stroke my beard in thought only to be jolted by the feeling of skin rather than hair against my fingertips. I wonder if I’d even recognize myself in the mirror at a quick glance? How jarring would that be?

I’m also concerned that I’ll feel less like myself. Is a beardless Gordon Cameron still Gordon Cameron, or some bizzaro version of Gordon Cameron?

It’s important to note that these are real concerns for me, not some passive-aggressive attempt to force the fire department to let me participate with my chosen personal esthetic intact. This is about safety. They don’t use fake smoke in the training facility, and if my mask doesn’t seal properly I could end-up being an unwilling prop used to show how fire fighters deal with someone overcome by the fumes of a fire. I’d rather be clean shaven and sitting at home contemplating what it all means, than bearded and lying in a hospital bed being treated for smoke inhalation.

In a way, it would be fitting if I had to shave in order to safely don a breathing apparatus. Years ago my father had to get rid of his beard in order to tour a mine that was full of noxious gas. When he got home both my mother and his mother didn’t recognize him. Needless to say he was quite perturbed by their reaction.

He’s been clean shaven ever since.

Perhaps I’ll get lucky and be able to make my beard short enough so that I can stay safe without having to radically alter my appearance. If not, I’ll have a decision to make: to shave or not to shave.

I haven’t made up my mind yet on how far I’m willing to go to write next week’s column, and I won’t know until I’m faced with that decision.

And who knows? If I do decide to shave, maybe I’ll like it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

COLUMN: Decision time: to shave or not to shave?

Opinion Oct 12, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve had a beard for almost half my life. Before that, I had huge mutton chop sideburns, and before that I was a smooth-cheeked boy.

In fact, if you haven’t known me for at least 25 years you’ve likely never seen me clean shaven. (There was a two-week period at university when I needed to be clean shaven for a play, but that was the last time large parts of my face ever saw the sun.) It’s been so long that I’m no longer sure what I look like without a beard.

However, I may soon find out.

As part of Fire Prevention Week, I accepted an invitation from the Hamilton fire department to participate in an afternoon of hands-on fire-fighting activities. When I went to the training facility to get fitted for my bunker gear I was also put through a respirator test to ensure that the mask would seal properly to my face.

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Needless to say, it didn’t.

So that means if I want to fully participate (and I can’t trim my beard short enough), I’m going to have to shave.

It’s a prospect that I’m finding more than a little disconcerting. I do think I look good with a beard, but this isn’t mere vanity.

For me, my beard is as much a part of my face as my nose, eyes or mouth, and the thought not having it there, even for a few weeks, just seems unnatural. I imagine reaching up to stroke my beard in thought only to be jolted by the feeling of skin rather than hair against my fingertips. I wonder if I’d even recognize myself in the mirror at a quick glance? How jarring would that be?

I’m also concerned that I’ll feel less like myself. Is a beardless Gordon Cameron still Gordon Cameron, or some bizzaro version of Gordon Cameron?

It’s important to note that these are real concerns for me, not some passive-aggressive attempt to force the fire department to let me participate with my chosen personal esthetic intact. This is about safety. They don’t use fake smoke in the training facility, and if my mask doesn’t seal properly I could end-up being an unwilling prop used to show how fire fighters deal with someone overcome by the fumes of a fire. I’d rather be clean shaven and sitting at home contemplating what it all means, than bearded and lying in a hospital bed being treated for smoke inhalation.

In a way, it would be fitting if I had to shave in order to safely don a breathing apparatus. Years ago my father had to get rid of his beard in order to tour a mine that was full of noxious gas. When he got home both my mother and his mother didn’t recognize him. Needless to say he was quite perturbed by their reaction.

He’s been clean shaven ever since.

Perhaps I’ll get lucky and be able to make my beard short enough so that I can stay safe without having to radically alter my appearance. If not, I’ll have a decision to make: to shave or not to shave.

I haven’t made up my mind yet on how far I’m willing to go to write next week’s column, and I won’t know until I’m faced with that decision.

And who knows? If I do decide to shave, maybe I’ll like it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.

COLUMN: Decision time: to shave or not to shave?

Opinion Oct 12, 2017 by Gordon Cameron Hamilton Mountain News

I’ve had a beard for almost half my life. Before that, I had huge mutton chop sideburns, and before that I was a smooth-cheeked boy.

In fact, if you haven’t known me for at least 25 years you’ve likely never seen me clean shaven. (There was a two-week period at university when I needed to be clean shaven for a play, but that was the last time large parts of my face ever saw the sun.) It’s been so long that I’m no longer sure what I look like without a beard.

However, I may soon find out.

As part of Fire Prevention Week, I accepted an invitation from the Hamilton fire department to participate in an afternoon of hands-on fire-fighting activities. When I went to the training facility to get fitted for my bunker gear I was also put through a respirator test to ensure that the mask would seal properly to my face.

Related Content

Needless to say, it didn’t.

So that means if I want to fully participate (and I can’t trim my beard short enough), I’m going to have to shave.

It’s a prospect that I’m finding more than a little disconcerting. I do think I look good with a beard, but this isn’t mere vanity.

For me, my beard is as much a part of my face as my nose, eyes or mouth, and the thought not having it there, even for a few weeks, just seems unnatural. I imagine reaching up to stroke my beard in thought only to be jolted by the feeling of skin rather than hair against my fingertips. I wonder if I’d even recognize myself in the mirror at a quick glance? How jarring would that be?

I’m also concerned that I’ll feel less like myself. Is a beardless Gordon Cameron still Gordon Cameron, or some bizzaro version of Gordon Cameron?

It’s important to note that these are real concerns for me, not some passive-aggressive attempt to force the fire department to let me participate with my chosen personal esthetic intact. This is about safety. They don’t use fake smoke in the training facility, and if my mask doesn’t seal properly I could end-up being an unwilling prop used to show how fire fighters deal with someone overcome by the fumes of a fire. I’d rather be clean shaven and sitting at home contemplating what it all means, than bearded and lying in a hospital bed being treated for smoke inhalation.

In a way, it would be fitting if I had to shave in order to safely don a breathing apparatus. Years ago my father had to get rid of his beard in order to tour a mine that was full of noxious gas. When he got home both my mother and his mother didn’t recognize him. Needless to say he was quite perturbed by their reaction.

He’s been clean shaven ever since.

Perhaps I’ll get lucky and be able to make my beard short enough so that I can stay safe without having to radically alter my appearance. If not, I’ll have a decision to make: to shave or not to shave.

I haven’t made up my mind yet on how far I’m willing to go to write next week’s column, and I won’t know until I’m faced with that decision.

And who knows? If I do decide to shave, maybe I’ll like it.

Gordon Cameron is Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.