This photo was taken of me on October 31, 1995. I was a senior in college, and this was at a "Reformation Day Party". That's me, standing next to the 95 Theses, looking very pensive . . . and stroking my beard.
Ok, let me just address the first question: no, that is not a real beard that I grew on my own. The beard is made of crepe hair, which is a special kind of wool used to make theatrical beards and mustaches. You can get it at any magic shop or wherever theatrical makeup is sold. Crepe hair is cool because you can mix different colors and make your beard look like it has grey patches or red highlights, and match it exactly to your own hair so it looks very realistic.
Anyway, I had gone to college in Massachusetts and a bunch of my friends had heard that one of the Christian clubs over at MIT was having a "Reformation Day Party." Of course, costumes were encouraged because it was also Halloween. I did not want to wear a costume and was quite stubborn about it. But everyone was hassling me to wear a costume, so I decided to experiment a little with my stage makeup. I had just learned how to apply the crepe hair in my stage makeup class and I was really good at it (I got an A for my beards and goatees, but only a C- for my scars and bruises) so I decided, what fun it would be to just show up as myself with a full beard! Oh, and the best part: we decided to take public transportation to MIT!
You should have seen the looks I got! The bus was full so my friends and I had to move to the back, which means we had to walk past all the other passengers. I let my friends go first. People were smiling as they saw a clown, then a scarecrow, then a pumpkin. But they literally shrieked in horror when they saw me. Gruhahahaha!
There were gasps, whispers, and pointing of fingers. Just to make it clear that I was a girl (and not a guy with long hair) I had purposely worn a pink jacket and big hoop earrings. People could not stop staring. They knew it was October 31, but they just could not believe how realistic the beard looked on me. Their reaction was only natural, as I looked completely and utterly unnatural.
When we got off the bus, we had to walk a bit to MIT, so my friends insisted I be the one to ask people for directions. People were making quite a commotion over the bearded freakshow everywhere we went. At one point, a man who appeared to be homeless and carrying a bottle in a brown paper bag approached me from behind to ask what time it was. When I turned around, the man took one look at my face and exclaimed, "WHOA! Man, that ain't right! That just ain't right!"
We eventually made it to the party over at MIT, and 13 years later, I don't remember anything about that party (aside from the fact that I took a bunch of pictures). But I remember clearly the reactions I got from people for whom I was creating a visual disturbance. Why is that so memorable?
Well, after blogging for the last year about biblical gender roles, I would say in hindsight it makes sense that these people would react this way. Just look at what the scriptures say:
Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20, emphasis mine)
When we start tinkering with God's perfect creation, everyone's conscience cries out: "That ain't right!" My little beard experiment proves it.