Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

January 22, 2009

Peach Fuzz, Stubble & Hairy Zen: Reflections on the Great Beard Experiment

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A Man Can Dream About Having A Beard This Glorious

A Man Can Dream About Having A Beard This Glorious

Today marks the fourth week of The Great Beard Experiment. The disposable razors and shaving cream have been tucked far away in the medicine closet. For the past 28 days, it has been Mach Zero in our household. Sadly at the beginning the best this man could get was to have his facial hair grow in bunches. Enduring this patchy spot, things began to fill in to the point 6th grade boys have stopped pointing and calling me ‘peach fuzz.’ In fact, Trix are no longer for kids as this man gets a milk beard every time he eats this sugary cereal. I am now waiting to officially reach Hairy Zen when small birds starting build nests in my beard.

You might be wondering what sparked this facial hair frenzy. Here are a few reasons for why I have decided to go Gillette free:


(1.) Out with the old and in with the new. In order to accomplish a New Year’s Resolution, it means other activities have to inevitably fall by the waist side. Carving out time for my new priorities meant becoming creative in the area of time management. Let’s say the average shave takes 10 minutes. Over the course of a year this frees up 60.83 hours or approximately 2.5 days to invest in learning another language, taking a pottery class or working out in the gym.

(2.) These tough economic times have hit the checking account pretty hard. Like the majority of middle classers, every one of my pennies counts. Rather than give up Starbucks or my frequent runs for the border, the razors were cut from the shopping list.


Enough with the practical. Let’s get to what truly kept me from reaching for the blade when the urges to itch the stubble became uncontrollable.


(3.) Since Christmas morning I have been attempting to fool others into believing I am some sort of an outdoorsmen even though the only rock trail I have climbed is the Code Red of Mountain Dew. Knowing my love for looking like a trendy poser, Jenn gave me a North Face vest for the holidays. Hence the new Grizzly Adams look and my sudden love for Eddie Bauer sweaters.

(4.) In tribute to tonight’s season premiere of my all time favorite television show Lost, I decided to head back to the island and unlock my inner Sawyer. The chances of me actually accomplishing this feat are not good considering the fact the majority of those time wasting Facebook applications say I most resemble the portly funny man Hugo instead.  This isn’t the only thing going against me. My unkempt look comes closer to Tom Hanks in Castaway then the con man that makes most women weak in the knees. Trying to make up the difference, I have created a sarcastic nickname for every person I know.

(5.) As fun as it is to pay student rates at the movies, I am tired of having a baby face. For crying out loud I am in my thirties. I do not need crayons and three kiddy menus when I take my family out to eat.

(6.) A bushy beard also helps me brave the arctic temperatures of Wilmington, NC. It is the only way I survived the massive snowstorm of 2009. Clean-shaven Tony would of frozen in that light dusting of accumulation.

(7.) Curiosity killed this cat. I wanted to see what celebrity I would look like when hairy. Would I resemble Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or the former gun touting Charlton Heston? If I had my choice, I’d want to be the bearded Sting on Obama’s inauguration night. That my friend was a thing of beauty.

(8.) The growth of facial hair seems to be a common occurrence for guys who have waved farewell to the corporate world. Along with burning all of your collared shirts, ties and slacks, the beard is one last act of sticking it to the man for the years of busy work and TPS reports. 


The last reason deals with January’s focus of curing my social shyness. In a previous post I mentioned an article I came across about tips to enhance small talking skills. Considering I started the month at the remedial level in the art of conversation, any tip that would get me to the barely passing level I was willing to try out.

Another trick the article offered up was expanding my horizons by trying something new every day. The problem was many of their suggestions were either lame or impossible for me to accomplish. Going home a new way is out of the question since my daily commute to work is a gas guzzling 1.6 miles. Try sushi – as much as I want to love this cuisine since it fits into my desire to be hip and trendy, the fact is I absolutely hate fish. Play pinball, paint a watercolor or bake a pie. That would be a no to #1 and # 2 while I’ll leave the last to Betty Crocker. Then it hit me: grow a beard.


Nothing makes a better icebreaker then facial hair. The conversations are endless:


“Hey…I think you have some dirt growing on your upper lip.”

“No, I do shower from time to time. What you are looking at is my new sweet stache.”


“Have you converted to another religion….are you a Hassidic Jew?”

“Nope, I am still down with the Big J.C.”


“Did your hair on the top of your dome take a vacation to South Beach?”

“No, the missing persons report I placed for the hairs on my head have created very few leads…”


“Are those M&M’s stuck in your beard?”

“Yes, this is where I hid my mid-afternoon snack when I find myself zoning.”


The results have been amazing. It gives me a foot in the door when it comes to small talk. Conversations seem to be lasting longer. I even get a few laughs that are not related to the hairy mess growing around my chin. So, all you shy guys toss those razors in the trash and beard up! 

January 15, 2009

The Big Guy Upstairs Loves Crocs, Jim Belushi, Texas and Chick-fil-a

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God Loves Chicken Biscuits

God Loves Chicken Biscuits

Blessings from God are serious business. Literally. And I’m not talking about televangelists using ‘blessings’ for bankrolling their summerhouse in the Hamptons. I am speaking of true favor from the creator of the universe. One should consider themselves lucky if they have this honor bestowed upon them. He does not go handing them out to everyone like those annoying Domino Coupons hung on your doorknob or stuck underneath your windshield. Tonight I was reminded of a few things God blesses:


(1) Of all the states in the union for God to bless, it seems odd he would choose one known for belt buckles, corporate punishment and livestock. But, who am I to question the big guy upstairs. For whatever reason, he decided to bless Texas with His own hands by bringing down angels from the promised land. God gave them a place where they could dance so if you want see heaven brother here is your chance. A side note: if you are fortunate enough to come across a broken road in Texas then you have just witnessed a double blessing of God.

(2) God must really love himself some Jim Belushi. This is the only way to explain why the sitcom (I use that phrase loosely) According to Jim managed to stay on air for eight seasons. Either God blessed him or Belushi made a deal with the devil. I’m thinking it is the latter and came as a package deal with George Lopez.

(3) Whoever came up with Crocs. Only God could have had a hand in rubber shoes taking over a nation to the point where grannies think they are ‘down’ when they put on their pink colored Crocs with extra special charms attached to them.


Yet, nothing makes the Lord smile more than when another Chick-fil-a pop ups in a strip mall. This glorious southern creation gains his favor not for their sweet tea, chicken biscuits or for the fact they are closed on the Lord’s Day. He blesses the ‘Fila for the constant thank you prayers he hears from parents with little children.

The stream of appreciation speeds up during cold, rainy and snowy days.  Parents like me are laughing because they know about the sweet relief I am talking about: the play area. When the weather outside is frightful, it provides a place where the kids can go crazy for 20-30 minutes while you catch your breath and get a break. It also serves as an excellent bartering tool when your kid refuses to eat their chicken nuggets, fruit and lemonade.

Unfortunately, since the play area is hardly a secret it serves as a popular destination for families. The swarm of kids also means a swarm of parents. In such confined spaces forced small talk is inevitable. More often than not I sneak out, grab the sports section of the local paper and leave Jenn all by her lonesome. I avoid any glances in the direction of the play area because if Jenn and I lock eyes then I get the ‘look.’

Tonight, there is no way she is letting me off the hook. She kindly reminds me what this month’s focus is all about. Wow, you cut me deep Jenn, you cut me real deep. I hope my overprotective dad gene will kick in giving me an excuse to watch my girls and not make pleasantries about the age of our kids, where we got their cute outfits, how Paige really is two even though she is mini-me and squashing the rumor we put extensions in Madison’s hair (we’ve honestly been asked this on more than one occasion). Our girls decide not to bounce off walls so Jenn and I get the joy of listening about the potty training problems of a young boy whose running nose is greasing the twisty slide like Crisco. Oh no…Paige just bum rushed another girl. Most nights I would be completely embarrassed. Tonight it allows for the perfect excuse to ‘discipline’ or in other terms exit stage right. 


January 8, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the wall…who is the fairest of them all?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:02 pm


The Result Of Talking To Yourself In The Mirror Too Much

The Result Of Talking To Yourself In The Mirror Too Much

Where does one go on to sharpen their small talk skills? A typical (or should I say sane) person would seek out social gatherings like the water cooler at work, a city park, cocktail parties or a get together with friends. If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time, you realize that is not how I roll.  My first stop in curing my nervous social tics is my bathroom mirror.

The mirror has no significance or deeper meaning. There was no ‘coming to Jesus’ moment where I dragged in an old school boom box and start blaring Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror while I confront the reflection staring back at me. Neither does it involve giving myself a Stuart Smalley motivational speech that “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it…people like me!” Even though I contemplate it, I do not even ask where the beach is and respond by flexing my muscles and saying in a deep voice, “it’s over there.”

Step #6 from’s “How To Make Small Talk” is the reason I find myself huddled up in the bathroom staring at a mirror in desperate need of some Windex. For those of us who are at the Hunch Back of Notre Dame recluse level, they suggest “talk to yourself in the mirror. Make a random list of topics and see what you have to say on the subjects. Baseball, Russia, butter, hip-hop, shoes…the more varied your list, the better.”  That list is definitely varied. Can you picture how one can weave all of those topics in one conversation. Going from Pujols, Pumas to Putin and ending how much butter P. Diddy puts in his pasta is quite the feat.


I have my doubts, but I decide to give this a shot. Here’s how it went:


“Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?”

“C’mon Tony…be serious.”

“Well, if we have any chance of breakthrough I have to let you know you have a bear in the cave and it really is distracting me.”

“Thanks….wow the gray sure is showing. No wonder you wear hats all the time. If it’s not the gray, it’s got to be to conceal the fact you are going bald.”

“Hold up a second chief….that’s a pretty bold comment for small talk.”

“Chief? You don’t even know my name, do you? What? Are you going to call me buddy or cowboy next time you see me?”


Conversation suddenly interrupted when Madison opens the door.


Maddie: “Daddy, what are you doing?”

Me: “Um….I’m just talking to myself….”

Maddie: “Not again daddy…That’s silly…now give me some privacy, I have to poop.”

Me: “Seems fitting, beautiful. I dropped a load on this experience…”

Maddie: “What, daddy?”

Me: “Nothing, hunny, nothing.”

January 6, 2009

When It Comes To My Phobias I’m Like Baskin Robbins…I Have 31 Flavors And Then Some..

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Fear of Elevators

Flavor of the Month: Fear of Elevators

My heart brakes for people who suffer from Agateophobia. This issue literally drives them crazy, as it is the fear of insanity. Let that last statement sink in for just a moment. At the first hint of craziness their mind starts racing promptly leading them to freak out even more which causes more paranoia that they are slowly going insane. It’s like the crazy cycle of life.

Phobias are old hat for me. There are times when I feel like Baskin Robbins in that I have 31 phobias and then some. Somehow I have managed to navigate through life while dealing with my fair share of phobias. As a toddler my mom said I suffered from Ablutophobia (fear of washing and bathing). If the pictures from my trips to Disney World are any indication then when I was a kid I had Pupaphobia (fear of puppets). In my awkward middle school stage Caligynephobia (fear of woman) caused me to sit in the bleachers during dances. As soon as puberty kicked in and peach fuzz began appearing on my upper lip the doctor diagnosed me with Xyrophobia (Fear of razors). Unless it involved a PlayStation 2 controller, during college I went through a bad stretch of Ergophobia (fear of work).

Jenn would tell you I am the king of Decidophobia (fear of making decisions), but I still have not decided if she is right or not. The last disorder is a byproduct of a double dose of Kainolophobia (fear of anything new) and Metathesiophobia (fear of changes) from my time living in the Suburbs when being adventurous means a Saturday afternoon not spent at Target or Costco. Having pulled most of my hair out in frustration of the mundane life I lead has set in motion my Phalacrophobia (Fear of becoming bald).

A new phobia of mine came out of the darkness recently after confronting that I am, in fact, socially stunted during this little experiment. To my surprise, this fear has yet to receive a clinical name or make an appearance on the phobia list. Either it is so rare or doctors ridicule my fear to the point they will not even dignify it with a definition. However, since they came up with Sinistrophobia for people who fear all things left handed I am assuming they aren’t chuckling at my expense.

One of the things that terrifies me the most is elevators. Yes, you heard me right. Those boxes whose sole purpose is to go up and down bring a chill down my spine. Although the possibility of hearing Muzak versions of Nickleback in and of itself is frightening enough, this does not keep me from heading for the stairs. All you clever chaps who think it has to do with claustrophia or a fear of heights then you would be way off course.

I guess a bit of clarification is needed. This fear only manifests itself when there are other people in the elevator with me. If the doors close and I am alone then I am become a dancing fool rocking out to Kenny G. However, the anxious feelings begin the moment I notice someone waiting by the elevator. All I can hope for is an act of God to take place and they will get an email on their Blackberry or instant craving to play Brick Breaker.   

Unfortunately, this almost never occurs and I am forced to engage in small talk. The problem is I am the Pauly Shore of small talk as my performance always leaves people scratching their head confused at what just took place. After a quick weather update and a good laugh over the fact that the lady in charge of elevator inspection in the state of North Carolina is named Cherie Berry, I am officially tapped out of ideas. Since small talk is a part of life and is the foundation of every social encounter looks like my 30 days start with the basic of baby steps. 

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