Sari Botton: This morning I am here with Brian Macaluso, a 60 year old man who… happens to also be my husband. Hi, Brian.
Brian Macaluso: Hi, Sari
SB: Today we're going to talk about your beard, which you were afraid to grow out recently. We had a conversation a few months ago during which you told me you were reluctant to grow out your beard, and you were thinking about possibly coloring it, which made me laugh hysterically. (I'm sorry about that!) And also, I had some practical concerns about that. But anyway, tell us about why you were concerned about growing out your beard.
BM: Well, it so happens that my beard is white.
Brian: I've been self conscious about the fact that the beard would make me look older than I am. And I've often shaved because of that, so it keeps me looking youthful, at least in my mind.
SB: And the hair on your head is not—it’s sandy brown, or dirty blonde.
BM: My beard has been white for quite a bit. Even when we first met, it had white in it. So I've been self-conscious about the fact that the beard would make me look older than I am. And I've often shaved because of that, so it keeps me looking youthful, at least in my mind.
SB: This is the first time you've grown a beard in a really long time—like, many years. In our early years together, you tended to alternate between clean-shaven and bearded, and I love both. So, lucky me, I get to have two versions of you. But before we met, or how we met, you had been dyeing your beard back in 2003, when we met on Nerve Personals. Tell us about that.
BM: Well, even then, all those years ago, I was concerned about the effect that the white beard would have on how I was being perceived. And so I would just cover the gray parts, the white parts, to match the rest of the beard. That was my self-consciousness about it.
SB: And you were only 41 at the time when I met you. And I was 38. And I remember thinking, Am I going to go out with someone who's over 40?? It really is relative, how we perceive age. I get yelled at by some of the oldest of the oldsters when I feature people on here who are younger than they are, by either a little or a lot. But I remember being in my 30s, and even my late 30s, and the 40s seemed like a whole other thing, a whole other age group.
BM: Which it is in a way. The demarcation of the year, the decade, like that.
SB: Yeah, it's another time shift. A cute thing you did with your dating profile photo is you made yourself laugh. And I love knowing that. You had this really great smile that grabbed me. I reached out to you first, because my therapist at the time made me do that. He said, “Stop doing the rules! Reach out to men.” It paid off! But anyway, I love picturing you trying to make yourself laugh. Can you tell me about that?
Sari: The roots problem was one of my considerations when I was suggesting that you do not color your beard now, because I thought those roots are going to grow in really fast, and you're going to be constantly dyeing.
BM: It was back before smartphones and the ease of taking selfies and all that. So I realized in this dating profile that I would want to present myself in a state that was disarming and appealing, and laughter is appealing. And so I just sort of thought of something funny and I just made myself laugh and took the picture. It was intentional, to try to kind of depict that side of myself.
SB: So, did you, like, put a digital camera on a tripod and then set the self timer?
SB: I love that. Well, it worked. So, at the time when you were dyeing your beard, did you have to keep up with the roots constantly?
SB: And was it temporary color?
BM: A permanent color, and it would just grow out. And then you just fill in the grown-in parts.
SB: By the time I met you, you didn't have color in your beard. I remember meeting you, and there was some gray. I thought it was sexy, by the way. The roots problem was one of my considerations when I was suggesting that you do not color your beard now, because I thought, those roots are going to grow in really fast, and you're going to be constantly dyeing.
BM: And it's not just a patch of gray. It's all gray—all white.
SB: I also kept thinking of Rudy Giuliani, with the hair dye dripping down his face. With the Total Landscaping thing, I can't remember the full name of that.
BM: Four Seasons Total Landscaping.
SB: Yeah, I just couldn't bear the thought of you with hair dye dripping off your face. But we did get Katie Kosma to use Photoshop on a photo we’d taken of you with your white beard. She colored it in. So we've got them side-by-side up top here ⬆️. And it's interesting, I think that you actually, in a way, look younger with the beard because you look more casual.
BM: Well, it's also, I've never grown my beard out in this way either. Back when I grew it out regularly, I usually kept it nice and neatly trimmed and not unruly at all. But now I've decided to let it completely grow out, just to see what it looks like. Now it's growing out, and it's different, and it's pretty cool. And it's something that I can stroke now.
SB: Right, you do that. I see you stroking your beard, like some ancient elder. What's going on when you're doing that?
Sari: I also kept thinking of Rudy Giuliani, with the hair dye dripping down his face. With the Total Landscaping thing, I can't remember the full name of that. Brian: Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Sari: Yeah, I just couldn't bear the thought of you with hair dye dripping off your face.
BM: Well, it feels good. There's something about the way that it feels when you grab onto it and sort of comb it in one direction. It's very contemplative. What seems like a cliche is actually kind of real. It does something in the moment, in terms of focusing my mind, or calming me down.
SB: Is it meditative?
BM: It is a bit meditative. And it can only be done with a fuller beard. Which indicates, well, years have to pass before you can do it. So this is the thing about the older man, the wisdom of the wizened beard-stroking older man.
SB: But I think most of our friends have said that you look actually kind of younger with the beard.
BM: Yeah, I've been told that before. I mean, many times.
SB: Although you did have an experience the other day, at Taco Bell.
BM: Well, one of my guilty pleasures is to go to Taco Bell and get a chicken quesadilla. And you go to the drive thru, they ring you up, and they say it's gonna be $7 dollars, and you drive to the window and pay. I get to the window the other day, and the guy says, “$6.40.” I said, “$6.40??” And the guy says, “Senior discount.” I said, “What? How did you know I was a senior?” as I stroked my beard, and the guy says, “I have my ways.” So, I saved $.60.
SB: I think you are technically not a senior yet. I think you have to either be 62 or 65 for that. You're a senior-in-training, I would say. Well, I have to say that I find your beard very appealing. It looks great on you. And it's actually pretty sexy.
BM: Thank you. I'm glad you think that way.
SB: Well, thank you for joining us this morning, Brian Macaluso, for The Oldster Magazine podcast.
BM: Alright, see you later.