The Beard: An Era

November 1, 2007 was quite a day.  Yes, that’s the day I launched my website, but it was also the last day I shaved.  That is, until this past Thursday ;-).  That’s right, folks.  For those of you who don’t know, I have shaved clean and cut my hair – I look like myself again.  Of course, I realize for some of you… you never knew me without the Charles Manson look.  Why did I shave?  Why did I even have it to begin with?  What do I look like now??  Join me for a little look back at a very interesting time for me…

The Era of the Beard.

Bearded Mark Mushakian

First, let me clarify one thing.  For as much attention as the beard got, it was my long hair that really drove me nuts.  Yes, the beard had its great disadvantages, but what would frustrate me most often was the long hair.  Sorry, I just had to clear the air on that once and for all.  Now, on we go.

So, why did I have all of this hair if I didn’t like it?  Get Back.  I grew my beard and long hair for the lead role in a movie that I was co-producing with my friend, Nick.  His original inspiration for the look of my character was Paul McCartney from the famous rooftop concert with The Beatles.

Paul McCartney rooftop

Borrowing from that, we amplified it (no musical pun intended) to create a bushier beard, but as you can see, the similarities were still strong…

Mark Mushakian for Get Back

So, that’s all well and good for the movie, but the funny thing about beards and long hair is that they’re not removable.  After shooting, I couldn’t just go back to looking like myself, and this is where the real fun was.  Since we only shot for 2 days out of the 400+ days that I looked like this (the beard/hair took a little while to grow), most of my memories stem from my day-to-day activities.

First, the beard.  For the first couple of months, it itched like crazy.  I’d find anything I could and start rubbing my chin on it: rulers, pencils, babies… it was tough.  As time went on, though, and the beard grew longer the itching quickly subsided.  Then, of course, there were new problems.  After getting out of the shower in the morning, I would have to shake my beard out like a dog.  Yes, even after drying off with a towel.  When eating things like cereal or soup, I would constantly find beard hair in my food.  Haha, I can’t tell you how accustomed I’d become to sliding hairs out of my food – as if it was a daily occurrence.  Wait, it was ;-).  Food would also frequently get stuck in my mustache… they don’t call it a soup strainer for nothing.  Also, my bed/bathroom/bedroom floor/everywhere was constantly covered in a layer of fallen beard hairs.  Brushing my teeth was fun, too, because after leaning sideways to get a drink from the faucet for rinsing, I’d have to use a towel or my undershirt to dry my water-soaked mustache.  These things weren’t HORRIBLE, but they’re just inconveniences that most people probably don’t consider.  Of course, then there was the hair.

Ladies, you have my sympathy.  Fellas, if you’ve never had long hair, let me tell you – it can be a pain.  If I didn’t take time to put some type of product in it in the morning, it would be full and fluffy, and in my face, all day.  I got used to wearing my caps all of the time for this reason.  Beyond that, even if it was slicked back, it was long enough that it fell over my eyes if I looked down.  During the summer, if I was working around the house, I’d end up putting clips in my hair just to hold it back.  Sorry, though… no pictures of that ;-).

The whole thing wasn’t horrible, though.  Really, for as much as I joke about it, if I hated it that much, I wouldn’t have done it.  When Nick got his Wii, I even set up a Mii character that looked frighteningly similar to myself.

Mark Mushakian Bearded Mii

Ultimately, I was a walking billboard for the movie.  Everyone I’d meet at school or at work (or anywhere a conversation developed) found out about Get Back when I explained why I looked the way I did.  It was fun to have that kind of "in" with people.  Before I started growing the hair, I had finally reached a point where I was feeling completely confident as an adult.  It was a point of life where I had left every trace of childhood behind me and was enjoying the self-assurance that comes with being a man.  Of course, then I had to cover that man up with a beard and long hair.  It was with a good purpose, though.  I was a part of a good movie that I cared about, and that was what mattered.

So, why did I go clean-cut again?  Well, I had the beard and hair for Get Back, and when that movie was over I was going to shave and cut my hair… go back to Mark as I knew him.  However, after an overly long and problematic production, we decided to pull the plug on making Get Back.  Don’t worry about us, it was the right decision and there are no regrets – we both grew creatively and learned a lot.  Of course, the major point for me that night was that I was finally going to look like myself again.  Most of my coworkers and regular customers, all of my classmates at Saddleback, and many others had never known me without the beard and long hair, and I was finally going to be able to show them.  Heck, I haven’t even had a current pictures of myself on this site where I didn’t have the beard.  It was still odd, though.  Considering how long I’d been looking at myself in the mirror, it was going to be a shock to see my face again.  However, on Thursday, April 9, 2009 – I did.

The hair went first.  My mom, who cut my hair, asked me to feel the back to see if it was the right length.  The first time I put my hands to my head I let out a giddy laugh.  I hadn’t felt my head without engrossing my hands in long hair for quite a long time.

Mark Mushakian short hair

After that came the beard.  As is customary when shaving a beard, I had fun with it – going through various styles as I cleaned myself up…

Mark Mushakian debearding 01

Mark Mushakian debearding 02

Finally, it was all gone – and I was all smiles.  Nick said my mood jumped immediately, and besides the excitement of the moment, it’s true.  I finally looked like myself again, and that transitioned into feeling like myself again.  Giddy as a school boy ;-).  Before cleaning up the bathroom and taking a shower, I had to say one final goodbye to the look I’d sported for over a year.

Beard silohuette

The next few days were interesting.  It didn’t take me long to adjust to seeing my face again, but that may have been because I flashed a big smile into every mirror I passed.  Haha, I’m not vain, but I couldn’t help it.  My beard covered my smile pretty well, and it was hard not being able to share a friendly grin with people out on the streets.  Now I could… and I was happy.  The first day afterward, in fact, I took a walk down to the grocery store.  For the first time in a long time, I was smiling at people – and they were smiling back.  Following that, on Saturday, I went into my acting class to begin surprising people.  A few of the folks even thought I was a new student until they took a long look at me.  This happened again at work on Monday.  In fact, a driver by was so amazed she lost control of her car!

Land Rover over curb

In my Tuesday night class, and again this morning, I was welcomed by surprised faces.  This won’t be the end of it, though.  For months I will be greeting customers who are seeing me beard-less for the first time, or seeing former classmates from Saddleback, and I’ll get to explain it all.  I had to do it when I was growing the beard, so why not now that it’s gone, eh?  Besides, getting to give them the explanation with a clean face ain’t bad at all.

In all seriousness, that beard has been around for quite a lot.  I wasn’t just making a joke when I called it an era.  In this time I’ve made and changed life plans, lost my dog, started and run my website, written a feature script, grown as an artist, had ups and downs, and experience a big chunk of life that I never will again.  The era has come to a close, and to symbolize that, Monday night I "shaved" my Mii.

Mark Mushakian clean-cut Mii

Oh, yeah.  So, what do I look like now?  Well, for the first time in the existence of my site, here’s a picture I took of myself today as I choose to be – clean-cut.

Mark Mushakian clean shaven


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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One Response to The Beard: An Era

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