Portrait of a Scary Beardy Man

From The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler:

Bernadette was our oldest member, just rounding the bend of sixty-seven. She’d recently announced that she was, officially, letting herself go.  “I just don’t look in the mirror anymore,” she’d told us.  “I wish I’d thought of it years ago….

“Like a vampire,” she added, and when she put it that way, we wondered how it was that vampires always managed to look so dapper.  It seemed that more of them should look like Bernadette.

Prudie had once seen Bernadette in the supermarket in her bedroom slippers, her hair sticking up from her forehead as if she hadn’t even combed it.  She was buying frozen edamame and capers and other items that couldn’t have been immediately needed.

Lately I am sort of doing this.  Thanks to steroids, my face looks wrong to me in the mirror, so I have started more or less pretending it isn’t there.  After several weeks of this, I look less like the smiling figure at the top of this page, and more like, well, this:


Fortunately for both me and any children of delicate disposition who live on my street, I have just gotten permission from my gastroenterologist to begin the process of tapering down my dosage of steroids.  Within the next three months, assuming no medical setbacks, I should recognize my own face again.  Then will come celebratory shaving.


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  1. EJ, what are they doing to you? It’s an amazing transformation. You look so serious. Weighed down. Like the revolution isn’t going well and the CIA is after you.

  2. I so feel you on this aspect of treatment. When I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I was so happy to finally know what was wrong with me, and glad to take the pills! But then came the incessant weight gain and sleepiness. It just wasn’t me. Especially not after I’d gone and especially lost all that weight the summer before. Oh, it was so cruel to see my body change again, without my permission.
    I wish you the best with this tapering off. I know who you are inside there!

  3. Good luck with the medication adjustments. Just think, right now you are in Pirate Mode. Add some beads, some pistols, a bandolier, and a swashbuckling swagger, and you have the rakish pirate captain, ready to sail the tempting seas and steal hearts in the process.

  4. I actually quite like the facial hair, but then again, I think most men look better with beards. You are doing the very thing that http://www.beards.org/ suggests as phase one of beard success, letting it grow out a couple of weeks (even if it’s scraggly) before trimming up nicely.

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