Drugan-Eppich: The curse of ‘baby face’

Bret Belden

From the Loser
By Tim Drugan-Eppich

When most people are on the brink of their 21st birthday, the excitement of entering into a new realm of adulthood is the only thing on their mind. No longer will a knock on the door lead to frantic scrambling to hide the party essentials. No more will an invitation for drinks lead to an awkward explanation of how they look older than they are. Now everything will be different, life will be good. Now they can pee outside in the bushes on a Friday night and just get charged with public urination and not internal possession.

Alas, it is not with such raised spirits that I cruise into this monumental birthday. This is due to being afflicted with a condition that plagues men everywhere. One that makes them question their masculinity, their testosterone levels, and indeed, even their value on the sexual market. You’re right, it is tragic. I am addressing the medical horror known as “baby-face.”

The disease is one that is impossible to diagnose until you are in its grips. Everyone begins with a baby-face, so from the start it could happen to anyone. What sets the infected apart is what doesn’t happen more than what does. The signs begin in middle school. Everyone else showing off the beginnings of armpit bouquets and bragging of hair growth in nether regions. You keep quiet, for your entire body is still as bare as a newborn baby fresh home from a wax.

The questions start coming in as to whether you shave your legs, for the thick dark hair which your friends have covering theirs is still absent. You bring your legs to a well lit place to show them that there is some hair, it is just blonde, and thin and stupid.

Then, on a fateful day in the gym locker room, a couple guys take off their shirts to reveal that almost overnight a carpet has been laid down on their chests. You joke about them with the other hairless guys, but when you get home you stand with your arms up, inches from the mirror, searching, eyes straining, for a hair. Just one hair. Is that too much to ask?

The other guys begin to experiment with their facial hair. Patchy beards sprouting up as far as the eye can see — young men convinced the disgusting growth on their face is attractive. You see the girls laughing at how bad it looks, but you fantasize at having that stubble to stroke thoughtfully when pondering a difficult question or while listening to a beautiful woman profess her love for you.

You have begun to finally grow armpit hair, but you have missed the window of celebration by four years. Nobody cares about that now, so you keep it to yourself.

You begin to shave your face, not because you have anything to shave, but because you’re a sophomore in college, and concerned that puberty lost your contact info or just decided not to show up. Maybe running a blade over your chin will remind it that at 19, it is supposed to be producing hair. And if not, maybe someone will ask what that band aid on your neck is for, and you can tell them with a puffed out chest that yes, you did cut yourself shaving.

And finally it becomes clear, the excuses have run out. You have fallen, just as your father before you, into the grips of baby-face. It is a devastating affliction that will ward off potential sexual encounters, job offers and eventually your friends who are tired of being asked how they got their little brother into a bar.

Don’t try to find solace in the comfort of others. Their condolences will be “Oh, but you will look so good when you’re older,” and “You don’t look crazy young. I’d guess 17.” Hardly the support you were hoping for. Like your girlfriend would say, you don’t need them to solve the problem, you just need them to listen.

Slowly you recede into yourself, everyday waking up hopeful that perhaps this is the day you will be able to join society as the man your age says you should be becoming. Yet, every day you are met in the mirror by the same face you have seen since the fourth grade. A face that lets women know, no, I am not mature enough for you to find sexually desirable.

Yes, it is a lonely and trying journey that will take until you can cover that abomination of a face with a beard. But if my father is any example, just as that beard is coming in, the hair on top will be calling it quits — proving wrong those who said you’d age well.

So instead of planning my trip from bar to bar, nightclub to nightclub, I am preparing my identification. For there is no way they will trust my driver’s license. But maybe if I also have my passport, college ID, birth certificate and my mother there to vouch for me, I might get in and talk to women. As they say, there is someone for everyone, and maybe a guy with a receding hairline and a baby-face can be a turn-on. And despite the advice of my friends to rely on my personality, I’ll keep my hopes up for my looks, because being interesting sounds exhausting.

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.