Near the end of the night, we talked about our plans for Sunday, which was supposed to involve going to see Denise (my sister), Ed (brother-in-law), and Natalie (my cute-as-a-button niece) in Newbury Park. I told them I didn't think it was safe for me to drive out that distance in my car in its current state, so they let me borrow their tow car (Honda CRV), and told me that they'd pay for my train ticket back (so they could get the tow car back...). I arranged to have someone pick me up from the train station, and prepared for another day of interrogation.
Sunday arrives, and I make the drive out there. Natalie, who in all the times I've talked to Denise, has never cried once, takes one look at me, and starts bawling. My family decides that Natalie doesn't like the beard. Oh, yeah, I think, this is going to be a fun day...
After about a half-hour of exploring my face, Natalie decides I'm not that scary after all, and is okay with me, as long as Denise or Ed is close enough to see. By Monday morning, she was comfortable enough with me for me to watch her while everyone else was elsewhere. Yay!
Anyways, back to Sunday...About an hour or two after I show up, Denise brings to my attention the foam alphabet pieces that Natalie plays with. They've been put together into a big square. That's nice, I think. Then I notice that in the fourth line, the word "Kurt" is spelled out. It takes me a minute or so to piece together that all of the letters pointed in one direction are spelling something out. Taking out all the extraneous pieces, it says:
That's right. My parents bought me a car on Saturday. A Black 98 Ford Contour. Quite nice...I give shocked hugs to everyone, and go for a quick test drive with my dad. He explains that there's also a check waiting for me back at the house to pay for tax and license and such.
I get back, and about ten minutes later, Mom says this to me:
"So, considering how nice we were to give you this car, would you do me a favor?" (Pause) "Would you trim your beard?" And there went nearly all of the good feelings I was having for my parents. If she had made the request on its own, that wouldn't nearly have been as bad, but to tie it into the car just pissed me off. Now it felt like a bribe (a really expensive bribe, mind you, but a bribe nonetheless) to get me to change my appearance to their desire. I told Denise about this later, and she was shocked. She explained that she had brought up offering the car in exchange for a beard and hair cutting completely as a joke, and that Dad had emphatically said "No. That's wrong." Mom, on the other hand, seems to have decided that it was somewhat okay. When she made this request, I stood up and started to walk away. "You don't have to do it right now," she said. I turned around for a second, couldn't think of the right way to say, "Fuck you if you thought that's where I was headed," so I turned back around and walked into the kitchen for a drink.
Mom made one more attempt to get me to trim my beard right before I left Monday morning. "Please. For me?" she asked. I just said goodbye, and drove off.
I know, I could trim/shave my beard. It's not like it won't grow back. Ironically, I could completely shave it off, and by the time I see my parents again, it'd be back to the length it is now, or longer (they're going around the country and won't be back until October for Natalie's first birthday). I've been very good lately about keeping the mustache up above my lip, and I actually do plan to trim the beard itself soon, as it has started to interfere with eating. But, I refuse to do so as part of some master plan of my parents to make me more socially acceptable. Maybe I'm stuck in "teenage rebellion" phase to a certain extent, but every time they go to these great lengths to get me to cut my hair or shave my beard, it just pisses me off. In the past year, my parents paid for me to go to a career counselor (my sister later told me that they had hoped the counselor would tell me to cut my hair and shave my beard...), my mom called into a radio show to ask what she could do to convince me to cut my hair and shave my beard (Dad told me about that one), and now this. Cripes! It's just hair, and it's the way I like it! Why can't they deal with that?