Jim Siergey: Facial Fixation

February 16th, 2020

Throughout my adult years I have played with my face.

My countenance has been adorned with beards, goatees, Van Dycks and Fu Manchus as well as an ever-present run-of-the-mill mustache. I never got up the nerve to sport mutton chops but I ain’t dead yet.

I’ve had a full beard for the past three years or so and a couple of days ago I shaved it off. There was no reasoning behind this action, I was just tired of it. One of the drawbacks of not planning ahead is that I forgot that I would now have to shave which, in my case, would be semi-regularly, but shave just the same.

It took my wife three days to notice that I had sheared all this excess gray hair from my face. Rodney Dangerfield got no respect. I get no attention paid.

Since I’ve whacked the whiskers off I have been in the company of several other people that I see on a regular basis and not a one of them has seemed to notice the excess flesh my face now displays. Perhaps they don’t wish to say anything but I find that hard to accept because people generally can’t help themselves from telling someone who has recently had a tonsorial visit that they got a haircut so why wouldn’t they inform me that I have shaved?

It is just as I feared… I had developed a Bernie Epton look!


Epton ran against this guy…


Bernie Epton was an old white guy who ran for mayor against Harold Washington using the unfortunate campaign slogan of “Before It’s Too Late”. He had a closely cropped whitish gray beard that didn’t show up well in photographs or television but enough that one could sense something weird was going on with his face.

My beard used to be multi-hued with blacks and browns intermingled with silver and gray that made it visible from a distance…or in a photo. But now it had that uniform gray look that just faded into my gray face. Sorry, Buddy Holly, but I am fading away.

I did keep the mustache. It’s been protecting my upper lip since the late ‘60s.

I should rectify that statement. I did remove it once since then. It was on February 15, 1977. I remember the date because that night Muhammad Ali lost his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks. It had nothing to do with me clearing the brush from beneath my nose but the two events are linked forever in my mind.

I had gotten a haircut that day and decided that I would remove my beard as well. Armed with a pair of scissors and a safety razor I filled my bathroom sink with curly dark hair. As I studied my newly shorn face in the mirror. I determined that I would trim my mustache as well. In for a penny, in for a pound—as the old saying goes.

I was aiming for a neatly trimmed cookie duster look a la Erroll Flynn, David Niven and Clark Gable so, snip, snip, snip and voila! I ended up looking like a 16 year old Mexican male prostitute.

Off went the remnants of that ‘stache leaving me clean-shaven for the first time since I was seventeen. I looked at my new face in the mirror, squinted and imagined that I had a Clint Eastwood look going on. I tried to comb my hair to match.

The next day I went to work and a co-worker looked at me and said “You shaved off your beard, eh?”  The man was much more observant than my wife.

“Yes”, I replied, “I’m sporting kind of a Clint Eastwood look, don’cha think?”

He paused ever so briefly before saying “I was thinking more like Ricky Nelson.”

I have nothing against Ricky Nelson but he’s no Clint the Squint so I stopped shaving my upper lip right then and have sported a soup strainer up there ever since.

Time burns on and I continue to play with my face but the older I get the more I come to the realization that it’s actually my face that is playing with me.

So it grows.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Book `em, Danno

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