Yeah. So one week later, I have the joy of telling you that I was indeed the happiest person you know on Monday of last week.
My Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, earning the first championship for the Whalers/Canes franchise, and pissing off "original 8" hardliners everywhere.
As soon as the game was over, and as soon as I watched the presentation of the (holy FUCK) Cup, and as soon as I made it throught the line for hat/t-shirt, I went to the parking lot, had champagne with my friends Bill and Beth, and I shaved my awful beard.
The beard was good to me, and it was apparently good to the team.
A quick primer for the non-hockey fans. Sometime in the 1980's, when the New York Islanders were good, they were the ones to start the tradition of the playoff beard. Everyone on the team grew a beard, and refused to shave until the whole thing was over. They won three Cups in a row, so it must have worked. The rest of the league took notice, and it slowly took off from there. Individual players started doing it, and by now, almost every player on every team decides to stop shaving during the playoffs.
There are a few rules. The shaving stops either on the last day of the regular season, or on the first day of the playoffs. That really isn't important. The important thing is that there is no shaving. Period. No trimming, no grooming. Nothing. They just let what happens happen. Some will say that it's okay to shave after losing any game, so as to build new mojo, but most people frown upon that.
The best example of a really kickass playoff beard is that of Lanny McDonald who was a phenomenal player with a 17-year NHL career. He ended his career with the Calgary Flames, winning the Cup there in 1989. His playoff beard (and his full-time moustache) is legendary.
Sometime in the mid-late '90s, fans started playing along with the playoff beard. Since I don't have a wife (or even a girlfriend), and I don't have a job that requires a clean shave, I thought I would grow one. I stopped shaving on April 17, the day before the final regular season game. As a season ticket holder, I had the rights to playoff tickets in my same seat, and I exercised that right. In game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Buffalo Sabres, my beard earned me some world-wide attention. I carried a sign into the game that said "My Beard Believes". I was caught on OLN (in the US), CBC (in Canada), and one or both of these feeds was available all over the world. When I got home from that game, I had about a half dozen e-mails from places like Tucson, AZ; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC; and Stockholm, Sweden saying they'd seen me on TV. I've never met these people in real life, but they recognized me in a three second tv shot. That was pretty sweet.
Anyway, I had my moment of fame, and my Canes won. I had been getting negative reviews of the 63-day beard from women, and I knew full well that it looked terrible. However, I was devoted to my team, and it paid off.
After all that stuff with the game, I went to shave the beard. I had hoped that I would take it off slowly and document it in hilarious fashion like some of my hockey blogging acquaintances, but I was in a hurry to get it off.
I took some pictures, but couldn't quite make it as funny as some of those guys. Even if you don't like hockey, or beards, I encourage you to visit the links below. I'll share my beard-shaving post in its entirety, and strongly encourage you to click to the links:
If I get to do this thing 900 times in my life, I'll never be able to do it as brilliantly as did Sacamano, over at BofA. His beard-removal post and the accompanying photos will soon be the stuff of legends. Both for its elaborateness and its high level of comedy. If you didn't read his post when he de-bearded in early June, do so now. EDIT---Also, check out the great beard removal by Chris!, over at Covered in Oil, who removed his whiskers on Tuesday afternoon.
I didn't take nearly as many photos of the process, nor did I do it in any elaborate fashion whatsoever. I was in a hurry to get than damn thing off my face so women would stop telling me that they hate my beard. Now they can revert to telling me that they hate me. If, for some bizarre reason, you need to see enlargements of these photos, just click on them.
With the help of a $20 set of clippers (which worked magnificently, by the way), I was able to reduce the beard to mere stubble. Good enough for the drive home. With the help of my friends Bill and Beth, I got photographic evidence. In the first picture, I'm going after the stuff on the neck, and I've already gotten most of one side of my face. I didn't really have a plan (or a mirror) at that point. I thought about trying to match Sacamano's beard removal, going for different styles and designs along the way, but really I just wanted it off.
As you can see from the second picture, I decided to go for the ole' half-n-half. I think this will be a facial hair sensation that will take over the world. You saw it here first. Without a mirror, I had no idea how I was doing with the evenness of it, but I'm pretty pleased with how that stage of it came along.
Then, I came up with a style that's absolutely retarded. I wish, in retrospect, I had some shots of all this in profile, or some video clips of this, but I didn't plan it out very well, and like I say, I was on a freakin' mission. In the third photo, you can see that I've removed all of it except for the half-stache. Again, I have a hunch that this will be a fashion trend. Sure, laugh all you want. I have more stupid ideas where that one came from.
Finally, the end result. A (mostly) clean shaven face that I haven't seen or felt in 63 days. I'm very excited to no longer look like some terrorist or freak cult leader. Or Jake Plummer. The woman beside me in the picture is Bill's wife Beth. .
I'd like to thank my beard (RIP) for all the fun times we had together. I will always remember it.