Point of No Return: Ol’ Copper might be gone, but the legend remains

I kind of miss Ol’ Copper. Especially when you consider his replacement, “Skanky Possum.” You know, now that I think about it, maybe I should go back and start this thing off at the beginning.

<Insert cool flashback music here>

The year was 2000. “Gladiator” and “Cast Away” were huge hits at the movie theaters, Faith Hill and Santana were tearing up the airwaves, and we had yet to have a giant hole ripped through our collective hearts on a September Tuesday morning in 2001. It was a simpler time in many ways, and, if you asked the majority of reputable historians who specialize in that specific period, it was most notably the era of Ol’ Copper.

You see, I had a beard. It was glorious, and it was a distinguished mixture of brown and red, with some awe-inspiring traces of blond thrown in, just to drive the ladies wild. People flocked from miles away just to gawk at the sight that was Ol’ Copper, and the scribes waxed on poetically about the man in coastal Delaware with the “beard that kept the globe spinning.”

As a side note, I can sometimes be a bit hyperbolic about myself. It’s a coping mechanism to mask the...

But I digress.

Ol’ Copper was my pride and joy. He was managed in moments each morning with a quick trim and a brush of the hand, and he blended in perfectly with the hair on my head, providing a seamless balance of style and, well, unquestioned beauty. Until...

Until something funny started happening with that aforementioned hair on my head. Oh, it has been in recession since about the third grade, but it had remained in a holding pattern for years. I kind of had an “Eddie Munster” thing happening at the front of my hairline, but after so many years of the front line holding strong against the ravages of baldness, my defenses eventually broke down.

There was anarchy. Hair began to fall off in the shower each morning. My brush looked like a small brown llama after each use, and I noticed that my forehead began to become a five-head. And then a six-head. It did not happen gracefully, and the only survivor in the “Battle of the Rising Skin,” as the poets called it, was Ol’ Copper.

But I wasn’t fond of the idea of having a bald pate and a beard, regardless of how majestic and spectacular said beard might be. There was a fear that I’d come off looking like a professional wrestling villain with that presentation, and my personality alone already made me kind of borderline villainish to begin with — so, Ol’ Copper had to be sacrificed.

With a faint hint of “Taps” playing in the background, I took scissors and razor to Ol’ Copper, weeping silently as I watched his remains disappear down my sink’s drain. I barely recognized the face that was uncovered from the procedure, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to own a mirror again if I couldn’t see Ol’ Copper staring back at me. Now I was just looking at face. And head. Lots of head.

Way too much head.

But I bravely went forth in life, because that’s what we do as Americans, right? We face adversity, we pick ourselves off the floor and we attack our days with zeal. Sure, Ol’ Copper was gone forever, and my head was now turning a little red under the sun, but what was I supposed to do? Quit?

I eventually grew comfortable with the follicular evacuation on my head and embraced the look. I mean, there were some rough patches with some, well, rough patches that left my head looking like a golf course that had been abandoned sometime in the 1970s, but I eventually went all-in and shaved it all off — going for a more aerodynamic presentation.

And, as the years went on, the shaving became a little easier, as there were less patches to deal with and increasingly more head. I settled into a goatee to go with the dome, believing it made me look a little less sinister than if I brought back Ol’ Copper, and the goatee doubled as little pants for my “butt chin.”

But this December I relented. Tired of shaving every day, and looking to shake things up a little bit, I decided to dust off Ol’ Copper and bring him back. There were plenty of people these days with bald heads and beards. Why not me?

Well, I learned pretty quickly why not me. Ol’ Copper existed two decades ago. Things had happened to my biology over that time that made Ol’ Copper transform into “Skanky Possum.” That brown, red and blonde mix morphed into brown and white. My new beard had cowlicks, and it appeared that a Troll doll had taken residence on my cheeks.

This was not the same beard from 20 years ago. It was something... different. Something that looked like it just came off a three-year bender and didn’t have anywhere it needed to be any time soon. And I’m keeping it, no matter how it looks.

Hey, it beats shaving.