The influence of Orëveriel
The influence of Orëveriel

I've had a beard in various states of grisliness for the past two years or so. I have been a beard guy primarily out of laziness. One less daily ritual to perform in the morning, five minutes more to do things I'd rather do. That or sleep. Either way.

Last night, I was visited by an old friend whom I had not seen in a while. In order to protect the innocent, I will just refer to her by her Elvish name: Orëveriel. She seems to prefer that name lately anyway. And no, it's not Amber. You are being too literal, and besides, she's Liswamírë. Do keep track of the semi-arbitrary imaginary names I've started assigning to people in the past week or so, if you would. Liswamírë was actually quietly opposed.

The conversation actually went something like this:

Orëveriel said "You know, Vanyánan, you haven't shaved in a really long time."

She said this while doing a hand-stand in the center of the room. This has always been her favorite place. The hand-stand had been her favorite posture of late, though she changes favorite postures relatively often. Her favorite posture last week was standing on one foot while touching her nose with both ring-fingers, fanning the rest of her fingers out over her face. That one was actually subtly disturbing, so Liswamírë and I were both somewhat relieved when she decided she preferred hand-stands this week.

I hesitated. I knew Liswamírë preferred me to be bearded, and I also knew, well, how to put this nicely? Orëveriel is well-meaning, but her suggestions have a checkered history. She had suggested I take up an interest in Quenya, which has proved fun enough, and is certainly the most enthusiastic on the subject of all the people I know (though her enthusiasms are short-lived.) She had also suggested I join two book-clubs at work, even knowing how particular my tastes are. I'm actually not certain Orëveriel is so well-meaning, come to think of it. Most of the stupid things I have done in my life, I have done inspired by her council.

"Maybe I should just trim it." I offered as a compromise.

Liswamírë leapt at that, "Yes, just a trim."

"No, not drastic enough. You want people to notice the change, don't you, Vanyánan?" To emphasize her point, Orëveriel shifted her weight onto her right-hand and touched the tip of her nose with the ring finger on her left-hand, staring out at me between index and middle fingers. Liswamírë and I certainly noticed the threat to return to her previous favored pose.

"Actually..." I began, taking the hint.

Liswamírë was made of harder stuff. "She's baiting you."

"...a change does sound like a good idea."

"You'll regret it. You won't look like you."

"That's true..." I considered.

Orëveriel scoffed, "Oh please. Who will you look like then? How could a person ever not look like themselves. A person has to look like themselves, by definition. That's just plain logic. A=A and all that. After all, I change my appearance all the time, and I always look exactly like me." This was true. At that time, Orëveriel had a distinctly pixieish look, with boyishly short black-hair. Not three days prior, she had been a tall blonde. Two weeks ago, she was a he, and not a very attractive looking he at at that. Yet one thing was certainly true, Orëveriel never ceased to look like herself, no matter what form she took.

That bit of sophistry settled it. "I will shave it all off."

Liswamírë knew when the battle was over and shrugged, "If you must..."

Fifteen minutes and a trash can full of hair later, I found an alien face staring out at me from the mirror. You wouldn't think a beard could matter, but after a while, I don't know how long, it becomes part of your self-image, your identity, part of who you are. This morning, when I woke up, I shaved to clean up the stubble that had grown over night, and packed my lunch. That sounds ordinary, but I never pack my lunch. It's...just not me. This morning I packed my lunch. I spent my time on the train writing a fictional blog post. Another very un-me-ish thing to do.

I arrived at work, and everyone greeted me as Kevin, rather than Vanyánan, and kept making references to a "brother" that works for the same company. I laughed, and decided that I needed to schedule the meetings that accompany each block of work, and felt happy about it. Since when was I happy about meetings? I considered it as I sipped my Earl Grey tea, which I never drank before, but which now seemed the only natural morning beverage.

Before long, it was lunch time, and I went off by myself and decided to get some writing done, rather than read, or eat at my desk, or eat with my fellow Android developer Yulmo. I wasn't able to get much writing done, though, because Orëveriel had apparently followed me to work, and soon plopped herself into the seat in front of me at the cafeteria, feet propped up on the formaldehyde table. Her hair was now shoulder-length and had streaks of pink, purple, and blue.

I looked at her in sore silence.

She returned the stare, looking bemused, for two or three seconds before glancing away.

"Okay, I admit it. That was too much at once. Something is missing. You need...something..." A sudden spark of inspiration lit her face. She dropped her feet to the floor and slammed her hands on the table.

"I know! Mutton-chops!"

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