NOTE: This was the followup to a post that appeared on Christmas Eve. I started writing this particular post before New Year's, but never finished it. For the hell of it, I decided to go back at finish it up because it will introduce a series that will appear a couple weeks from now. Make sure the check out the announcement below!
A Social Experiment
Concept:I have seen some unique facial hair in my day, the most interesting of which was this guy at Iowa State that had half of a goatee, and not like just the chin or just the moustache. Oh no... yeah, vertically... the left half of his face was clean-shaven and the other was hirsute. Man that guy was weird. I didn't want to aim for something that dramatic, but something unusual but still be able to feel comfortabe showing my face in a work setting. So, I cut the trademarked Skaff beard down to something... unique, then went about business as usual and gauge public opinion/response from known and unknown individuals.
Results: The first test was the family...who didn't even notice... somehow. But also (unexpectedly) claimed to like it. Most co-workers noticed, but had little reaction other than a smile or motion drawing attention to the new look. I had planned on removing the look before my boss actually saw it, but he returned from his vacation a day earlier than expected. He didn't even bat an eyelash. There were some comments from friends, like "is he going to leave his beard like that?" and one person called the beard "extreme mutton chops". In general most comments were neutral to positive and basically nothing remotely negative. The funniest reaction was some kid (maybe 12) at a gas station with his dad. He did a quick double take, then kind of couldn't quit looking at the beard. I had on sunglasses so he didn't know that I could tell he was staring, but I was just trying not to laugh. That kid was about the only person I really noticed openly staring during the course of the week I wore that beard - and I did spend quite a bit of time out in public (more than usual actually).
Conclusion: While the beard was totally badass, there wasn't much of any reaction. This leaves me with several possible reasons as to why it had little effect:
1) Appearances are of little consequence and people recognize me for who I am, not necessarily what I happen to look like at any given point in time.
2) Appearances do matter, however, it would have been inappropriate to make mention of someone's appearance to either protect themselves from a socially awkward conversation, or to protect me from being embarrassed (negative comment) or inflated (positive comment - might lead to more ridiculous facial hair in the future... which is completely inevitable).
Or the third choice which should be considered -
3) It is not the facial hair that is irrelevant, but actually it is myself that is irrelevant.
While all three are viable possibilities, but it's probably a combination of the three. Talk about a cop out conclusion, right? Anyway, I consider myself to be a pretty decent judge of what people are thinking (in most cases) versus what they are saying by physical reactions and gestures and I honestly think that the look was received positively. My current job is possibly the last one I may have that I can wear something like that, so it may, nay, WILL return in the future... and soon (at least briefly - see below for the announcement).
ANNOUNCEMENT: After doing this "social experiment", I mulled over a concept and let it fester which ultimately developed a BRILLIANT idea, one which will dwarf this experiment in sheer magnitude. Beginning March 1st check back for the first in an nine post arc for the absolute pinnacle in beard related series - Seven Beards in Seven Days. The epicness of this series can be seen by the countdown timer now placed on the right side of the blog. It must be epic if there is a countdown timer, right? Typical irregular blogging will occur before Seven Beards in Seven Days and then pause for regularity (with the exception of Quotes for the Week) for the duration of the nine part arc, then resume normal irregularity after the conclusion. This series has spent months in the creation stage and now the time is soon approaching for the plan to be set in motion. The date of March 1, 2009 will not soon be forgotten, permanently emblazoned into the minds of all who shall read this series. Do you have the fever?