Adam is going viral! Well, at least the movie he wrote two years ago did. Now he returns to university, fresh from a wilderness sabbatical with a new script crafted to win back his ex. However, when it turns out that his script is awful, he's forced to examine the gap between the life he's built for himself in his head and reality. Maybe there he'll find something, or someone.
Bear hugs hurt, a lot, and that night was no exception. This, of course, was of no surprise to me, I was well aware of what the decades of the "big boys don't cry" rhetoric and other such macho anti-vulnerability bullshit had done to my generation. Mostly, stopping us from being able to enjoy non-painful hugs with our best friends.
We stood out in front of an old shopping centre, remarkable only in how truly unremarkable it was. The town was Wardwood, an old southern English town that over the years had grown in size, not enough to threaten the likes of London but enough to perform a not-too-bad facsimile. The skies had mostly darkened, so outside bathed in the centre's glow is where we had agreed to meet.
Jeff had trapped my arms in a rigid plank-like formation at my sides. As he put the squeeze on I could smell the faint scent of expensive aftershave that I was too poor to know the brand of. He released his grip and I could see that face again. Brown, handsome and spread by an impossibly broad smile. Just as I had left it all those months ago. Jeff's smile slowly faded as his eyes took in my features.
"A beard." He said, smile weakening. I nodded slowly.
"A beard?" He said again, taking a step back into the night and forcing a wet sludging sound from the grey remainders of the late October snow.
"Yeah, what's wrong with-" before I could finish his hand whipped forward and a finger dipped in and out of my facial hair.
"Hey! Did you just finger my beard?!" I said taking my own step back out of his range.
"Jesus Christ Adam! That's homeless-guy-level beard!" An eerie mixture of concern and disgust made its way across his face, as he spoke.
"That's pretty classist you know." My eyes narrowed.
"What if I said ‘down on his luck gentleman’ instead?"
"Still pretty classist."
He looked up thoughtfully. "Hasidic Jew?"
"Now it's just grey-area racist."
"Look that doesn't matter! What matters is that monstrosity over there." I ducked out of the way of another finger point.
"Beards are cool right now!" I said.
"No, they're not!"
"Yeah they are! They're like tattoos and smoking! Growing a beard fits perfectly into the I-don't-give-a-fuck category of coolness."
Jeff vehemently shook his head and then began to rant.
"Yeah, but that entire category stays cool because vast segments of the population can't or won't do those things. Everyone can and has grown a beard over the last couple of years! You know, when it was actually cool. Now that bearded lumberjack shirt wearing shit is played out. You jumped on a train at its final stop. Disappearing off to the countryside for 6 months doesn't make you Sylvester Stallone at the end of Rocky 4."
"Rocky 4..." I said, scratching at my beard.
"Come on! He went to icy Russia, had one of the top ten beards in movie history."
"I don't think I watched that one." The itching continued.
"We'll YouTube it later, right now we've got work to do. Don’t we? You brought it didn’t you?" His eyebrows raised.
“Yes.” I said suddenly feeling the weight of my backpack.