(This is a solo column by Chris, the adult writer of the Gab Four. For more solo columns from Chris, visit the official Web site of the Gab Four, www.MyBriefs.com.)
“Leave my sideburns!”
That was my request to the man holding the razor, upon each visit to the barbershop, regardless of whether there was any discernible thatch in the general vicinity of my face.
Despite attempts by family and friends to compare said wanton muttonchops to Elvis, “90210’s” Dylan McKay or Captain Kangaroo, my whiskers were clearly inspired by Baltimore’s Brady Anderson.
Anderson was drafted by Boston in 1985 and traded to the Orioles in 1988, but those statistics do nothing but detract from focusing on Anderson’s vibrissa. His sideburns sprouted in September 1991, two years before I made the audacious choice to not shave next to my ears and almost two years before I cut my ear while shaving. The lesson? Blood spewing from one’s ear often clarifies hard decisions.
Even though I played only one year of organized baseball, I allowed baseball players to enliven my appearance, as at various times I wanted sunglasses like Jay Buhner, a hat like Jackie Robinson and a mane like Johnny Damon. I view it as fortunate that I was not as easily influenced by basketball players such as Michael Jordan, or I may have wound up shaving my head and resembling a 6-foot-tall finger.
Curiously, as Anderson’s side whiskers blossomed, so too did his on-field performance. Having hit a total of 11 home runs in his first six seasons, Anderson’s first full season shaving in strategic places resulted in him hitting 21 homers and being featured in “Sports Illustrated.”
Anderson consistently hit between eight and 24 home runs in his 10 sideburned-seasons in Baltimore . . . with the exception of 1996, in which he hit 50.
Clearly, Anderson was hoping to be confused for a direct descendant of Samson, as opposed to a beneficiary of powerful Flintstones Vitamins.
Nevertheless, Anderson made the All-Star Team in 1996 and 1997, and his ’97 Kenner Starting Lineup figure, which resembles Brandon Walsh catching a baseball, ranks as one of my most memorable birthday surprises.
Unfortunately, I was not always able to remember to remind my barber not to abolish my potential sideburns. After forgoing shaving for weeks in an attempt to create organized villus near my ears, without an admonition my barber would oftentimes shave, wax or intently stare until there was no trace of side bristle.
And as is frequently the case with adolescents, there were times my body did not fully cooperate in its production of symmetrical filament, as my left sideburn grew more rapidly than my right sideburn. I’m confident that my barber, noticing my lopsidedness, took pity on my attempts to look like a hipster.
However, successfully replicating Anderson’s sideburns ranks as one of my most noteworthy high school achievements. It could only have been surpassed had I been able to confidently explain Anderson’s 1996 season.