I lived cheaply, and grew a goatee. On Sundays, I’d ride my red Schwin 10-speed in the park with a girlfriend. We’d picnic. I have a photograph that shows the goatee. That day while slowing to a stop, I’d been unable to pull my foot free of the toe clip, and fell over, toward my front wheel. Not wanting to bend the spokes, I’d placed my hand onto the spindle of the axel, which, being pointed, had poked a hole in my hand. In the photo, I am dabbing at my hand with a kleenex and wearing a rueful expression. And, of course, my goatee.
I thought the goatee looked pretty good. I have some indian blood, and grow no whiskers elsewhere, so I cannot grow a full beard. My goatee was frizzy, and my cat Rosie used to bite it to show affection.
Some days I’d bus down to the San Francisco library and spend some hours there, looking things up, reading Consumers Reports. I cannot now imagine how I spent hours, but I did. This particular day I’d taken a picnic lunch consisting of a can of vienna sausages and a sourdough roll. I ate my picnic on the grass on the park across from City Hall, and in front of the Library.
That afternoon, riding home on the bus, I was daydreaming, when my eye was caught by a black-haired guy sitting a few rows up. He sat on the sideway bench behind the driver, so I could see his face. As my mind floated along, I kept coming back to this guy’s face and finally realized that he looked really stupid. He needed a haircut and he had a little goatee and somehow he looked like he thought he was really cool, and he looked like a jerk to me.
Then, with a sudden flash, I realized that he had a goatee just like my own!
When I got home, I shaved. That was the end of the goatee.