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Sideburn Boy

January 22, 2012

Wolverine(Luckily, Elvis was not a big reader, so he will not be turning over in his grave because of this post.)

This specimen is a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt by way of William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elvis, the guy who played Heimie on Get Smart, right up to Sideburn Boy’s father, Luke Perry. He is young, sometimes too young, as when a ten-year-old Sideburn Boy wannabe will let his prepubescent mane grow down in front of his ears with the hope that it will fan out at the bottom like a matted bell. He is usually a member of the 18-25 demographic, a group sought after by advertisers, though he earns only a fraction of the income made by the thirty-plus senior circuit. He often lives in his parent’s former bedroom, while the folks, in awe of their boy’s two furry strips, make do in the basement. He is hip, cool, suave…in his own mind, since his personality stops at the lowest hair of his side-whiskers.

He is a card-carrying member of Hairpeace, a mange conservation group that believes there should be a quota on facial hair. The organization’s mission statement reads that visage-filaments can be collected in only one place, the mustache, or divvyed up into a soul patch and a pair of bushy eyebrows, or split into the more yin and yang arrangement of two symmetric vertical columns running down the temporal plate – i.e., sideburns. Hairpeace denounces beards as wasteful, an affront to good taste, and just plain stupid looking. Beard-guys are to the facial hair cohort what Harlequin Romance writers are to the literary community, with Sideburn Boy presiding as the elite, a combination of Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot, minus the talent; or, more accurate, Beard-guys don’t really give a shit about their appearance, whereas The Sideburn Guy grooms himself every morning as though he were about to have breakfast with the Royal Family, when, in fact, he will spend the rest of the day at a computer terminal as an intern for an insurance company updating his fantasy football team.

Shaquille O’Neal once tried to put into vogue the most ridiculous employment of sideburns in the entire history of the wooly art. He grew just sideburns without the complementary support of cranial growth, or, for that matter, a goatee. It looked like someone had affixed two small thatches of bristle on opposite poles of a brown soccer ball. O’Neal is known for his supreme egomania, but even he, within a few weeks of this silly attempt to start a trend, shaved off the two fluffy islands, with the silent admission that one needs more than mere hubris to be a pioneer. The basic truth is that Shaq ignored the number one rule in Sideburnia as handed down by no less a personage than Elvis, and, to a lesser extent, Luke Perry: the sideburn cannot stand as a solo performer, only as an accessory.

One of Sideburn Boy’s dilemmas is that, when presenting himself to society, he wants people to take note of his sideburns before the rest of his face, even before his eyes. This lofty ambition goes against the most basic principles of bipedalism in that he would have to resort to a lateral mode of walking to ensure leading with his prized asset, not the smoothest way to navigate a shopping mall, to say nothing that it would leave one of the sideburns bringing up the rear and thus be out of sight. This explains why Sideburn Boy has a tendency, while in conversation with a lady, to turn his head back and forth to give his helpless prey a look at one sideburn and then the other, on and on, until she falls to her knees…actually, that never happens because the fool fails to understand the commonsense fact that sideburns lose their aesthetic power when viewed one at a time.

There is a guilty secret shared among all Sideburn Boys, and it is this: At the bottom of their cheesy hearts, they all wish that the male-fashion-clock would turn back 130 years to the days when men could grow mutton chops and not be deemed a crazy fuck or a drummer in an indie band. True, Hugh Jackson sports an impressive pair of chops when playing the role of Wolverine in the X-Men movies, but has anyone ever seen the actor showing up at a Starbucks with such an over-the-top follicle array mounted on his pretty face? Let’s admit it, the typical Sideburn Boy does not have the balls to expand his shtick to such a gaudy level, except, as mentioned above, if he is a drummer in an indie bands; but is it really that bold to use creative whisker design in an underground music venue? (See Ozzie Osborne biting off the head of a live bat.) It is this piece of embedded data that exposes Sideburn Boy for what he is: a born follower who deludes himself into thinking that he is a leader.

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