Monday, May 5, 2008

Northwest Style (Part 2)

In today’s episode of Northwest style, we head south to Portland, OR and feature bearded ladies.

These are not the women you see at the checkout stand with an excess amount of unwanted facial hair under their chin if they have a couple of those. That's just mean. These are also not the stuck up little waif bitches with fuzz on their cheek bones because they don’t eat enough (by the way, I did check up on that and it is in fact true that women with eating disorders develop facial hair as their bodies revert to some Neanderthal means of protection. So for all you ladies out there thinking about taking up a nasty bulimia habit, this is one guy who prefers his women facial hair free even if that means a little on the chubby side. If you're not really a stuck-up bitch, just an insecure woman with an eating disorder, may I just suggest, cheeseburgers. Super delicious. Extra fattening). Oh, and this is not about pre-op trannies, either. They are clearly tortured souls who have to endure a lot more than my snickers.

No, these ladies have gone to great lengths to develop these sexy facial locks while remaining otherwise true to their estrogen. They are women who appear to have shaved certain parts in an effort to groom out a goatee or perhaps a wispy little fu man chu. Women who seem to feel entitled to experience the male-dominated, yet drone-like morning ritual of having to shave. And at the risk of sounding presumptuous, these are women who always show up alongside other, more feminine looking women – psst, I think they may be lesbians.

Mostly and for no apparent reason, I see these women at the New Seasons on 33rd and Killingsworth. And much like the aforementioned utilikilt, I have never spotted this phenomenon outside the city limits from whence they come. Which is weird, as this trend requires no store of any convenience, other than one that sells razors.

My only real negative run in with the lez-beard happened at synagogue. Now I’m not a religious man, and I sort of dread going to temple all together, but once a year, tremendous guilt takes over and we convince ourselves that we should at least try something Jewish. This particular sect is very progressive (sic. hippies), geared to young families, minimal religious services and just a nice place for young Jewish kids to run around with each other. If these are the faith-based dues I must pay, I can handle that.

We took my mother-in-law with us on our last religious outing, which gave her great nachus (sp? - yiddish for pride). But my mother-in-law comes from a pretty traditional background and we had to prepare her for the hippie schtetle she was about to enter. She’s been to the Northwest before and even had her own run in with a utilikilt so there isn’t much that can put this woman off, but we offered some fair warning nonetheless.

Being the communal congregation that this is, everyone is encouraged to bring a dish to share, and following a short service, a potluck dinner is served. I just need to say here that eating a bunch stranger’s Jewish cuisine gives me great nausea (English for vomit) and I refuse to partake. But I sat with my wife, daughter and mother-in-law who scarfed down the kugle like it was their last supper.

And then the bearded lesbian approached. There was one vacant seat right next to my mother-in-law and of course, hairy-face headed right for it. Her beard was more of a goatee, but a nice thick-ish one and all gray to match her gray head of hair. And she was a friendly sort. So much so that she immediately engaged my mother-in-law in a long, close-talking conversation.

My mother-in-law didn’t flinch. It was incredible. 50-some years of honing her polite allowed this woman to stare in the face of a circus freak and carry on a natural conversation. I watched in wide-eyed wonder as this follicular female ate blintzes and talked, while bits of cheese and batter flew sporadically through her whiskers which, thankfully acted as a mini-barrier. The whole thing was truly horrifying.

I don't so much judge these women for choosing to grow out their beards. They are entitled. But by the same token, the rest of our non-
female-bearded society is entitled to stare, point and shout the occasional "oh, my god, look - that woman has a beard." It's only fair.

Postscript: As fascinating as I find this cultural trend, there is a real dearth of information online about it. The only photo and discussion I could find on topic came from the lady pictured above, Jennifer Miller and she is a professor at Indiana University, which totally debunks my whole Portland-centric thesis. She seems to have been afflicted by unwanted facial hair and chose to embrace the situation, rather than cultivate it as some kind of alternative style. Horrible example all around.

Oh, and if any bearded women stumble onto this blog and decide to go back to your silky smooth, feminine face, I encourage you to do so and even included this link for your convenience.