Recently, an old acquaintance of mine, Professor Yardley Snovel, dropped by my humble abode for a visit. I bade him welcome and after clearing the ant traps from the chesterfield and removing the horse-blinders I wear during migraine season, I beckoned him to sit down and take a load off his flip flops. It was then that I noticed the new and most impressive facial hair the Professor was now sporting. Mutton chops to be precise."Ah, you've noticed," he beamed. "The wife thinks it makes me appear more worldly." His wife has been dead the past fifteen years but I hate to remind the poor man of this. Seeing the admiration glowing in my eyes, the Professor suggested that perhaps I should grow a set of mutton chops for myself. Now I have always had difficulty with facial hair, due to genetics and a childhood accident involving a car battery, alligator clips, an electric eel and my Uncle Larchmount (the electric eel, in the end, wasn't even necessary for this experiment with electrical conductivity and to this day I bark at the sound of approaching galoshes).
Try as I might, I have never been able to grow more than a wisp of sideburns and even less of a mustache or beard. I made this fact known to the good Professor, which began our dialectical discussion on mutton chops versus chopped mutton, the details of which I will not bore you with because we both soon fell asleep and never finished the talk. Nevertheless, we awoke refreshed, he hanging inexplicably from a hook on the back of my door (sleepwalking I believe) and me, curled up in the pantry, my head nestled on crushed soda crackers (not sleepwalking but one of my napping spots). Brainstorming, we developed the theory that if one were to chop up mutton and apply the meat paste to the sides of the face, the desired mutton chop effect could be attained. We wasted no time in putting this theory to the test by first procuring some chopped mutton from my landlady, Mrs. Grabowsky. Actually, she was out of mutton, chopped or otherwise, but after some deliberation the Professor and I came to the conclusion that sardines might also work. After some coaxing on my part, Mrs. Grabowsky reluctantly parted with a tin of these tiny fish, and the Professor and I made haste back to my rooms to begin the experiment. With mortar and pestle, well, really a potato masher and an old Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket, I ground the sardines into an oily ungent which I then applied like a poultice from my temples to my lower cheeks. "What do you think?" I asked the Professor and with a flash of inspiration for which he is known, the Professor got down on his hands and knees and gathered up lint, stray hair and dust bunnies from beneath my chesterfield. "The shape is right," he said, "but it lacks that certain veracity one expects to see in facial hair." With those words he began adhering the hair, lint and dust to the sardine paste upon my face and I'll be damned, upon further examination in the mirror, if my chopped sardine mutton chops didn't look like the real thing. Even the Professor was impressed and he's a hard man to impress because he doesn't impress easily. "Splendid," the Professor said as he took his leave. "I do believe we're on to something here. Let me know how they hold up after a bath and during shaving." So it remains to be seen how successful this experiment will be. Further empirical research still needs to be done and once I can afford actual mutton, I think the results will be even more exciting. In the interim though, I'm having a struggle keeping Mrs. Grabowsky's cat off my face and a walk outdoors had a seagull almost biting off my ears and nose. Chopped mutton or mutton chops? The answer still remains a mystery.