I grew a mustache my sophomore year in college. If you would like to know why, I think I can explain it most easily by simply telling you that my mother despised all forms of facial hair. That, and I had an older brother that wore a mustache who I thought was the walking embodiment of cool.

Once I had a mustache, I kept it all through college and into graduate school. It was perhaps not the greatest personal style choice I could have made, but I stuck with it. Here’s an example of what PAgent looked like circa 1986:

Stop laughing! This was the eighties! LOTS of people wore bandanas around their necks! And Chuck Taylor high tops will ALWAYS be cool.

Ahem. Once I went to grad school, I started growing a beard every winter. I did this because Illinois gets freaking cold in the winter, and I needed all the insulation I could get (as an aside, a thick beard actually keeps your face remarkably warm, even in a nasty wind chill). I would generally shave off the beard in the spring, keeping the mustache, and regrow the beard every fall. That was my habit for many years, even after I returned to the Northwest.

Until, that is, my wife delicately informed me that she really preferred the way I looked in the beard. With just a mustache, not so much. Well, that seemed to be a pretty good reason to leave it on during the summer, so I quit shaving the beard off.

Well, now I’ve had a couple of kids who have almost never seen me with a bare face. And (I recently realized) my wife of 14 years has never seen me without a mustache. So on a whim I shaved off all my facial hair this evening.

It’s been entertaining, getting double-takes from my family all night. Bless her heart, my wife’s comment was “You look better without any facial hair than you do with a mustache and no beard.” Uh, thanks?

I’ve even given myself a double-take or two when I passed a mirror. It’s a toss-up whether that stranger looking back at me looks more like my father or my older brother, but the resemblance is much, much stronger than it is when I have the beard.

Now that I’m clean-shaven, I will immediately regrow my beard. I hate shaving every day, for one thing. Then there’s the pesky preferences of my spouse. For some reason, I want my wife to approve of my appearance, and that means a beard. And it will be nice when my kids quit looking at me funny out of the corners of their eyes.

For those of you that also loved Chuck Taylor’s All-Stars, but are concerned with Converse being owned by Nike, check out No-Sweat, which makes some pretty cool versions of the basic high-top basketball shoe, with the guarantee that no sweatshop labor is used. If you buy a pair, let me know how you like them.