The magazine arrived with a picture of someone called Brad Pitt on the cover wearing a T-shirt. Apparently he had been told, "Brad, Vanity Fair wants to put you on the cover for the entire nation to see. Go dress like a bum . . ."
But that's not the point. The point is that Pitt also has a bit of blond stubble on his chin, the way old potatoes have a bit of mold, ". . . and don't shave or anything so that you really look like a derelict."
Being catnip to the ladies myself, I have never quite understood why someone would think that it would be attractive to look like one of those poor empty-eyed souls found sleeping in a box under the bridge. And then go to all the trouble of affecting that weedy look myself. But that just shows all I know about being attractive.
Indeed, inside the magazine and many others are pages of young men illuminating many, many advertisements who are selected, one imagines, for their dashing good looks.
Mostly, they look like guys--good-looking guys, I guess-- back from a week in the woods or submarine duty. Stubble galore marks their sultry expressions, used to sell jeans and shoes and other things you would not think particularly dependent on whiskers.
We are to believe that women find this scruffy look beguiling enough to rush out and buy a pair of double-price jeans.
No, I don't see.
What I notably don't see is how they do it. How do they keep a beard at moss level? You don't see guys with Santa Claus beards or even the sort such as goats wear. These, one concludes, are not so likely to drive women to flaring of the nostrils as does a beardlet that looks like a shoe polish scuff. And why on Earth would that be appealing? I can only imagine that if Cindy Crawford or Tyra Banks showed up with the soup kitchen look, it might have some small and odd charm. But not much.
Having a frayed-face look, like the carpet in an old hotel lobby, is seemingly enough to catch the eye or something of a woman--or why would the models have such a look? Well, women are odd people, but how do you keep the beard to that scratchy length?
I don't know much about beards, archly mistrusting anyone trying to hide behind one the way a ferret hides in the bushes. Lincoln and Moses aside, bearded men usually are shifty-looking devils. Further, I can't grow a beard that I'd be seen wearing in public. For a long time, my beard was a splotchy orange, making me resemble the southern exposure of a northward-bound baboon. Worse, my beard now grows in quite white--my only gray hair, suggesting that I have overworked my mouth rather than overusing my head.
So I shave.
If I wanted a white beard, I could manage the trick. It would be a scraggly white beard, sort of like Ho Chi Minh's, but long. I could grow it, and it would stay that length. Sure. But how do they manage these Yasser Arafat beards, the binge-drinker appearance where the Velcro makes something of an appearance and then stops?
Oughtn't nature take hold? Shouldn't a beard, after a day or so, fill itself in rather than remain with the look like you shaved with a hatchet? And how would a model be able to sustain the register of his sandpapery chin to exactly the roguish length? Mightn't a photo session last long enough that the early exposures might reflect some Banderas-bandit air while the end of the roll would relay a Mighty Joe Young look-alike?
It is an interesting question. Well, maybe it isn't. But it leads to another:
Could this Brad Pitt fellow actually be wearing a tiny chin-wig? Where would you ever get such a thing? Whose brainstorm would that have been? What if it slipped and slid under all those hot lights? That would be embarrassing rather than, say, attractive. I think.
No, more likely it is that in the odd worlds of the movies and high fashion, leading with a fuzzy chin is all the rage. Around here, they'd send me to the company shrink if I came in that way. But for glamour, go for the five-o'clock-shadow fungus look. It's the Pitts.