Today I was walking in Trader Joe’s and one of the women who works there smiled at me, and I realized it was that time of the month again.

Let me explain. Every month or two, I go to a barbershop and have my hair and beard buzzed down to a stubble with an electric razor. Then I pretty much let it grow wildly for a month or two, until my beard starts to itch, and hairs poke into the corner of my mouth when I lick my lips.

When I first get a new haircut, my hair is too short; I look like an out of shape marine. When I am about to get a new haircut, at the end of the cycle, my hair is too long; I look unkempt and furry, like an overgrown Chia pet. But there is one week every month or two, in the middle of the cycle, where the hair on my head and my facial hair look good — a manageable light scruff — and this is the week I am attractive. Older women will ask if the chair next to me in a crowded coffee shop is free. People on the sidewalks of New York occasionally take note of me. Baristas plug in their smiles for me.

I know it would make sense to purchase an electric razor and keep the blade at a certain length and groom myself regularly, but that would be so vain; I am not a miniature golf course. I am more like the moon; I start as a sliver, and get bigger and bigger, in the night sky, a bright, furry face for people to avoid.

Originally Published: April 21st, 2011

Jeffrey McDaniel is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Chapel of Inadvertent Joy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Other books include The Endarkenment (Pittsburgh, 2008), The Splinter Factory (Manic D, 2002), The Forgiveness Parade (Manic D Press, 1998), and Alibi School (Manic D, 1995). His poems have...