Robin de Voh
writer, developer, nerd

Nanoprep 2019 Day 9: Brogaine

By Robin de Voh on 2019-10-16

He turned the bottle over in his hands and doubted at least some of his life choices. Brogaine, it was called, and it was a hair growth formula specifically for beard growth. He'd never been blessed with a full beard like his friends were. Whenever he tried to grow one, it would come out looking like a lop-sided goatee, sideburns with patches missing, and patches of actual hair where they looked out of place.

Essentially, a patchwork of beard elements, but without any cohesion to it.

But he'd always, growing up, pictured himself having a full beard. And part of him had never accepted that it hadn't worked out for him that way. He was frustrated by it, but also jealous of those who did have proper beard growth and didn't appreciate it like he would.

Then he saw the ads online. "Brogaine! Grow the beard you know you deserve!", and "Fill it out, with Brogaine!".

It spoke his language, and he'd ordered it from an extremely sketchy-looking Malaysian website that promised they were totally legit, for real. He couldn't find it anywhere for a better price -- even including shipping! -- and had hit order, filled in his address, his credit card data, and hit 'confirm'.

7 weeks later, by the time he'd already forgotten about it, it had arrived. A battered brown cardboard box, with no sender information on it whatsoever, and his address written on it with a thick red marker, containing another brown box, completely covered in tape, which contained a smaller white box with the word 'Brogane' printed on it.

Hm. Interesting typo. He was sure it was fine.

He had taken it inside and opened up the white box. A bottle was inside, dark brown, with yet another spelling on there -- Brogiane this time -- and a small leaflet with information. To him, it read like it had been translated straight from Chinese -- Malaysian maybe? -- to English.

"Take shave the area where it will be applied to Brogane. Clean well. Apply the Brogaine on lint free and put into the area until sting with cloth. Do not use too much, it can have unpleasant consequence. Keep out of children reach. Drink or contact your eyes, no. Ventilate."

Well, those are just beautifully written instructions. Apply until it stings? That didn't sound great to him. But no pain no gain, etc.

He shaved what little hairs he had and rubbed his face with warm water. He figured opening up his pores would help the stuff work better. The instructions were so short he was sure small adaptive insights such as these wouldn't have any negative impact.

He took a lint-free cloth, which he assumed the instructions were referring to, and turned the bottle over to get it wet.

He dabbed his face where he wanted beard growth, which was basically everywhere along his cheeks, chin and neck, and found that it didn't sting his skin very much at all. His eyes stung a bit, but he figured that wasn't what they had meant.

So he applied it a second time. It started to sting a little, but he wouldn't call it a real sting either. He was unsure. Is this what they meant? "Put into the area until sting" wasn't particularly specific.

He figured that since he didn't have much beard growth at all, and it didn't really sting, a third helping wouldn't hurt that much.

It stung more, but even now he wasn't convinced. Maybe he had gotten used to the low level of stinging before and now he was desensitized to it a bit?

Fuck it, he thought. Go for broke. Fourth layer, bring it on.

He needed that beard, dammit.

Now he was certain it stung. It hurt. A lot. But he knew now that he was done. It stung where he wanted the hair to grow, and his eyes by now were red and watering like crazy. He walked out of the bathroom and through his bedroom, onto the balcony.

When the wind hit his face, he screamed. Not a controlled yelp, but a full-out scream. It stung so much he couldn't think straight. Not just his face, but also his eyes, which he now couldn't open anymore because they were literally burning up too much. He scrambled backwards, trying to find his balcony door with his hands, to find his way back in.

After a few seconds of frantic searching, his hand grabbed onto the door frame and he worked his way back in. He went back into the bathroom, closed the door and sat there, panting and crying a little.

Oh shit, he thought to himself. This hurts way more than it should, doesn't it? he thought as well.

He spent the remainder of the day inside, hoping and waiting for it to stop hurting. It got less over time, but it didn't pass. He took a painkiller. It helped a little, so he took another two. He tried washing his face, but it hurt so much he couldn't finish it.

Eventually, at 4 am, he was so tired he couldn't help but fall asleep.

When he awoke a mere 5 hours later, he opened his eyes carefully and found they no longer hurt.

He sighed in relief and smiled. Finally, he was back to normal.

Then he tried to swing his leg out of bed and found it tangled in something. Stupid blanket, he thought, and he wiggled his leg to dislodge it like he normally did.

But it wouldn't dislodge. His leg would not untangle.

So he looked down to see why, and then he noticed.

Dark brown, curly hair, all the way from his face down to his legs, wrapped around the leg he was trying to move. And off the side of the bed. And as he followed the hair that went off the side of the bed, he could see that it was covering most of the floor area between the bed and the wall, curling in on itself where it had collided with the wall.

He screamed again.

Not a controlled yelp.

A full-on scream of fear.