“You like it, right?” Obama said, winking at Putin as un-sexually as possible. He didn’t want Putin to think he was coming on to him, especially considering they were meeting in Russia. He’d briefly considered not winking, but it just didn’t feel right. It was worth the risk.
“No, it’s stupid,” Putin said, crossing his arms and pouting his lip slightly. Obama knew he was lying, knew that he was more jealous than Michael Bay catching his wife at a firework show. Who wouldn’t be? It was magnificent.
“I know you do,” Obama said, running his hand through his beard and pulling at the strands. They were rough to the touch with an almost artificial texture, yet still felt convincingly real.
“It looks terrible,” Putin said, a tear welling up in his eye. He glanced away.
“Do you want to feel it?” Obama said, leaning his chin closer to Putin.
“No,” Putin said, his arm twitching slightly as he visibly resisted the urge to reach out to it.
“Go on,” Obama said. “Rub it. Feel what I’ve created.” Obama knew he hadn’t actually created it, that it had only been made possible by pulling all of NASA’s funding and investing instead into a top secret beard-research program. Michelle had argued, said it was “probably more important for us to explore space than ensure you can grow a beard,” but Obama insisted. She was a woman and didn’t understand what it was like to be baby faced, to suffer through the decades without the aid of a supple, supportive beard. Now she couldn’t keep her hands off of him, but feigned as though it were simply a coincidence. Yes, and it was also a coincidence that his approve rating had risen to almost 95% since giving birth to his new face-baby.
“No, I won’t do it,” Putin said. “I think it looks dumb.” He bit his lip.
“You’re just jealous,” Obama said, stroking his beard. He could feel the artificial roots buried deep within, the small, still-scabbed holes that had been inserted not a month earlier. He’d remained out of the public eye while they were visible, claimed he was taking a “vacation” in Martha’s Vineyard. In truth, he’d been back in the White House, sitting at the Resolute desk and watering his beard like a farmer feeding his crops. He’d done almost nothing over the past thirty days other than nourish and nurture his beard, giving it anything and everything it desired. He needed to be sure it looked as rugged and manly as possible before he launched his plan.
“Am not,” Putin said, re-crossing his arms and looking off to the side. His face was clean shaven, like a newborn baby with Alopecia.
“You wish you could grow one, but you can’t,” Obama said. He shoved his right hand into his beard and began massaging it. “Only good leaders can grow beards like these. That is why you should give me Russia.”
“Shut up,” Putin said, turning back toward Obama. “I can totally grow a beard. I just don’t want to. Russia is mine.”
“Don’t you lie to me,” Obama said. He attempted to smash his fist down on the table, but it refused to move. It seemed his right hand had gotten stuck in his beard. This was not the first time it had happened. In fact, he’d gotten his entire left arm caught earlier that morning. One of the secret service men had helped him pull it out, carefully untying the various strands of thick, soft hair that grasped at his forearm. Now, however, Obama was alone. If Putin knew he’d been captured by his own beard, everything he’d worked toward would be ruined. Russia would remain a threat. He carefully placed his right elbow on the table and pretended to be simply resting his hand on his chin.
“I’m not,” Putin said, “I can grow a great beard.”
“They why don’t you do it?” Obama said, subtly tugging downward whenever Putin blinked.
“Because it makes you look like a girl.”
“What?” Obama said.
“Huh?” Putin said.
“How can a beard make someone look like a girl?”
“Shut up,” Putin said. “I can grow a beard, I just don’t want to.”
“You mean you can’t,” Obama said, laughing. He carefully leaned his head back as he laughed, twisting his head left to right as he did so. His hand would not budge.
“I can!” Putin shouted, standing to his feet. “Fuck you, I can.”
“Do it then,” Obama said.
“Fine, maybe I will.”
Obama remained in his seat. Normally he would have stood up to counter Putin’s body language, rising to his feet and towering over him with his superior height. However, his beard-crisis made it impossible. There was no way Putin wouldn’t realize he’d been captured by his own facial hair if he were standing. There would be no way he’d surrender Russia to him and his beard.
“Go ahead,” Obama said.
“Fine,” Putin said. He closed his eyes, his face squishing and turning red as he appeared to push, like a mother struggling to give birth to a severely overweight baby. A high-pitched squeak escaped his lips, followed by a low grunt. He opened his eyes, the color slowly returning to his face, then turned and walked to the mirror in the corner of the room.
“Doesn’t look like it worked,” Obama said, twisting his tangled right hand wildly as Putin looked away.
“Shut up,” Putin said, pushing the mirror off the wall and watching as it shattered on the ground. “Just shut the hell up.”
“It’s not too late,” Obama said. “You can still come over here and touch my beard. You know, since you can’t grow your own.” Just one touch, that’s all he’d need, and then Russia would be his.
“I can grow my own, god dammit,” Putin said. “Give me a minute.” He turned and power-walked out of the room.
Obama grasped his right hand with his left and tugged down with all his might, pulling in the opposite direction with his head. It refused to budge. He lifted his left hand and carefully stuck it into his beard, searching for his right as he pushed the strands aside like an experienced survivalist on a jungle expedition. He found them wedged just in front of his chin, a thick rope of beard hair wrapped around each finger. His left carefully meandered over and began freeing the right. He made a mental note to invest in a tiny machete.
“Done,” Putin shouted as he ran back into the room. He was shirtless now, his chest clearly fresh-shaven and raw. Several strands of what were obviously chest hair seemed to be Scotch-taped to his chin, with a thick mustache colored in above his lip using what Obama guessed was a navy blue Bic pen.
Obama stared at Putin, both of his hands now buried deep within the jungle of his beard. He knew he looked a bit conspicuous, but Putin seemed quite distracted now.
“You didn’t grow that,” he said.
“Did too,” Putin said, wandering over to the table and sitting back down. “I just grew it a minute ago.”
“I can see the Scotch tape,” Obama said, carefully freeing his pinky finger from within the confines of his beard.
“No, that’s lather. I lathered it up.”
“And you also clearly drew in the mustache.”
“No,” Putin said. “Nope. No way.”
“Yes,” Obama said. The last strand of hair released its grip as he tugged down on his hand, finally escaping from his own beard-labyrinth.
“It looks better than yours,” Putin said.
“Let me,” Obama said, reaching out before finishing the sentence, “feel it.” He grasped the end of what looked like Scotch tape and pulled down, removing it and half of Putin’s artificial beard.
“Hey!” Putin shouted, standing up.
“I knew it,” Obama said, holding the tape to the light. It was clearly not a real beard, just as he’d suspected. “You couldn’t grow a beard if your life depended on it.”
“Fuck this,” Putin said, slamming his fist down on the table. He turned and walked toward the corner of the room, opening a drawer and pulling out a small, glass container. “I can grow a beard, I just don’t want to right now.”
“Right,” Obama said. He resisted the urge to resume stroking his beard, fearful that he’d again become stuck. “What’s that?”
“This is your country’s demise,” Putin said, walking back over and setting the glass box down in front of Obama. A large, red button sat inside, with the words “YES RUSSIA FIRE NUKE AT AMERICA?” written on it. “You think I’d just let you into my office for peace negotiations and not have a contingency plan? Can you guess what this is?”
“Does it fire nukes?”
Putin stared at Obama, his eyes wide in disbelief.
“Shut up,” he said, flipping open the glass case.
Obama squinted and pushed with all of his might, an unfamiliar feeling gushing out from the artificial roots on his chin. His beard quickly shot forward, increasing in length almost instantly, and wrapped around the glass box, tangling Putin’s hand as it did so.
“Hey!” Putin shouted, his hand wrapped within Obama’s glorious beard. “Get off of me!”
“Did you just try to nuke my country?” Obama said, pulling Putin closer with his beard. It was wrapped around his entire arm now, slowly spreading up and toward his shoulder like the roots of an over-excited tree.
“N—no,” Putin stuttered. “I just, uh,” he paused, his eyes locked on Obama’s beard.
“Accept it,” Obama whispered.
Putin closed his eyes and flung his face forward, rubbing it up and down against Obama’s massive beard. He left out a soft sigh as his head disappeared beneath it, the strands of Obama’s hair wandering down Putin’s neck.
“It’s so nice,” Putin said, his voice muffled by the hair.
“That’s right,” Obama whispered. “That’s right. Embrace it. Now I am going to lead Russia, yes?”
“Yes,” Putin whimpered, his hands grasping at Obama’s beard like a baby at its mother’s teet. “Yes.”
Writing Prompt: Obama grows a beard. Putin reacts, growing a beard also. Things escalate