All of the clocks, in all of the houses, apartments, and bars in Athens, all strike seven. You’ve been going to class all week, frantically pulling all-nighters so you can learn things you don’t need. It’s Thursday, or Friday for some of you, and the first days of the weekend are just now beginning (my weekend begins on Wednesday, but that’s a different story). You’ve got your sweet threads laid out on the bed, sitting atop flannel sheets and a tie dye bedspread. Jimi Hendrix hangs above your bed and smiles at Pink Floyd’s Back Catalogue, lit up like an altar for spiritual enlightening. There’s an acoustic guitar placed on a stand on the adjacent wall, wondering when it will be played again (you know, sappy poetic tunes, songs about death, how beautiful that one girl was once upon a time), followed by a bookcase full of wonderful and inspiring books, who eagerly await the chance to shake the dust particles skimming their pages, because let’s face it, who reads legit books during the quarter? Candles flicker on the opposite wall, revealing a bulletin board full of awful and great ideas. BustedBass stickers are everywhere for some reason, as well as necklaces, beanies, a wooden bird you bought from a store in Nelsonville because you thought you could mail it to your mom and maybe impress her, but then you got lazy. A typewriter sits with paper in its reels, still waiting for that one poem or one novel to lift you to literary gold. Journals are everywhere, as ripped pages of drunken poems and mantras are strewn about in a chaotic mess. Bottles of half-full (yes, I’m an optimist) PBR rest on your nightstand, along with other unmentionables, wondering why in the world there’s cigarette butts in them.
You get out of the shower smelling like wilderness, open air, and freedom. Putting your game face on, a.k.a plucking that growing uni-brow, swabbing some deodorant, and spraying yourself with Lucky cologne twice, you decide to reevaluate yourself. “That beards looking long”, you say, combing it in the mirror. “Kind of scruffy”, the back of your head says. Then you take one hard look at it, feeling the shampooed and conditioned fur on your face, and you stare at yourself, pause, and say…
“Dang, I look good”.
There’s friends of yours already at the bars, so you hustle down, buy a pack of smokes, and walk-in. The Cheers theme song cues on your entrance, and all the bartenders wave their hands, as well as your friends holding shots for you. “Whiskey?” they ask, like it’s some sort of joke. The bartender slides you a PBR, and charges you nothing for it. Girls give you hugs, men shake your hand, and you look around, wondering when heaven ended and the world began.
Then you see him. It’s your brother, bearded brother as a matter of fact, and you lock eyes. You kind of just want to call him an S.O.B., but you mouth it and wait for him to walk in. He stands next to you, and something comes over him, as well as you. You don’t know what it is, but your beards begin levitating towards one another, in an awkward, manly, yet forthcoming gesture. Then you realize that all that’s really happening is your beards are trying to give each other a high five, so you press your face to his, grin awkwardly, and wait as the universe explodes.
Bearded High Fives have been known to induce laughter, screams, and general chaos. Women become prettier, men become less burdensome, and everyone seems to either be intimidated or provoked by you. If you’re like me and love beards, it is not unusual to go up to another man with a giant beard, and ask to touch it. He’ll straggle at it too, as well as comment on yours. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: bearding is a brotherhood. If it wasn’t for beards I don’t know where I’d be, or who’d I’d be. Once in a while I’ll cut it short, like, real short, and people will literally not even recognize me. “Like you better with your beard,” they say, “yeah, nice face,” they chime.
Enough of that, this is a guide for getting down, dangit! After the bearded high five you stumble over to the Union or Jacks, and feel at home. Scotty, Bruce, Luar, or A.J. begin pouring your drinks, asking you how it goes and where your brother is. Then you look left, and it happens again. This time it’s your friend Ben, and without words, he comes and high fives your beard. His girlfriend starts to giggle and asks if she can touch it. You look at her awkwardly, and say, “What he don’t know, can’t hurt him”.
Then the music starts. EGT, Hellnaw, or BustedBass pump out tunes and gets everyone swaying. You spill your drink on your beard, and wipe it off with your flannel. Your dance skills have improved drastically. Another friend high fives your beard. Lights swirl in motion as faces gleam under pageantry fog and haze. Poetry starts coming to your brain and you begin wondering why things are the way they are. You feel happy. Friends hug you and you hug back, beardier and hardier than you’ve ever hugged another person. You feel remorse for your old flames, as they look into their new loves eyes. You say hi to people you barely know. You bend, and snap. Talks of beers, books, and broads overtake you, and sooner than later your beard starts having noiseless affairs with others. People talk to you and rub your beard some more. You giggle. This is the moment in your night when you realize why you came to Athens in the first place: the people.
The guide to getting down in Athens is simple: do it with your friends. I get by with a little help from my friends. I get by knowing that there are others out there that don’t care about how ridiculous we can be, how by not caring who or what touches your beard can actually make some pretty interesting stories. I get by knowing that giving a shirt to someone because you think they’d look better in it than you, is accepted. I get by knowing that getting down is what we’re all trying to do anyways. Getting down with a beard though, is just better.
So, my advice to you, fair internet friend, is this: grow a beard. If you’re a lady, don’t be shy about asking to touch a man’s beard, sounds creepy, I know, but he’ll love you for it. And if he writes a poem or two about you to express his feelings, don’t hold it over his head, he’s only bearded, and a man, and he makes mistakes. And if he insists on wearing those ridiculous boots because he can’t afford another pair, let it be. It’s only fashion, man.
Valentine’s Day is coming up, what better to do than tell your man his beard looks good, and that maybe you could wear his flannel for a day. See what happens.
Have a good rest of the week. See you around the bends Athens!