A Beard's Life

One of the best things about being a man is having facial hair. Not only is growing a beard totally fun but it also allows a guy to completely change his look. Unlike women who can color and cut their hair to mix things up, most adult men just don’t have enough head hair to do anything exciting.

(On a side note, I once had a meeting with a 40-something guy with perfect hair: flowing locks, full and shiny. I was mesmerized by it. What Faustian bargain did he strike to score that hair? And how come actors and politicians always have more hair per capita than regular guys? Is it the hair that makes them successful? Would it be awkward if I ran my hands through your hair?)

I first fell in love with the beard when I got a copy of Springsteen’s “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle” as a young boy. Bruce had a great, scraggly beard on that LP cover and I dreamed about having a beard like that one day. A few years later Tom Selleck and his fantastic moustache appeared on Magnum, PI and I was smitten. Now that was a moustache that you could set your watch to!

I always wanted to be that kid in high school with the facial hair. Remember that one guy that hit puberty way early and was already shaving on a regular basis? Yeah, I wanted to be that guy. In retrospect, that guy seems weird and creepy but at the time he seemed very mature and debonair. Then again, it wasn’t really an option for me as I couldn’t grow a beard in high school. Actually, the beard came in first, but the moustache was still pretty sketchy my first year in college.

Nowadays I’m a regular facial hair growing machine. I can bust out a credible beard in just under a week. I’m pretty proud of myself for that, by the way.

I almost always wear some kind of facial hair as my skin tends to be a little ruddy and my nose seems even bigger without the facial hair (yes, I’m painting a very attractive picture for you today.) I usually vacillate between 3 main looks:

Look #1: The Full Beard

Actually, the full beard would imply no shaving and I usually clean up the neck a little. Also, I trim it before it gets too bushy, or else you look like a crazy mountain man. Trimming requirements aside, the full beard is by far my favorite look. I think that it makes me look more rugged and macho and let’s face it – I need all the macho that I can get.

The only problem with the full beard is that it doesn’t work in the summer. Not only is it hot and itchy, but it’s just looks weird – like wearing cords in August. Or wearing manpris, any time.

Look #2: The Goatee

I actually hate the goatee because I think that it’s for fat guys and baseball players. Since I’m trying not to be a fat guy and I’m not so great at baseball I just don’t feel right with the goatee. But, the goatee is the go-to option when it’s too hot for the beard. I don’t think the goatee looks as good on me as the beard but it looks better than clean shaven, so I stick with it.

I’ve tried many of the fancy goatees but I just don’t like them – the beard only, the disconnected top and bottom, the wide goatee, the narrow goatee – nothing really strikes my fancy, though.

One time – just for fun – I shaved my goatee into a Fu Manchu and picked up my son at the YMCA summer camp. I knew that it must have looked creepy when parents were literally shielding their children from me. The Fu Manchu: It’s not just for bikers anymore!

Look #3: The Soul Patch

For some odd reason my wife likes the soul patch on me, but I feel like a tool when I have it. Mine is just too rectangular and a good soul patch has to be triangular. It seems like such a half-assed attempt at being a hipster, too. I mean, when you pull up next to me in traffic and I’m belting out some later-era Elton John power-ballad with the car seats in the back, don’t you just despise me and my stupid soul patch? Don’t you want to smack me for ruining the soul patch and everything that it stands for? I do.

One summer when I had the soul patch there was another daycare dad that had one (first). So we called him “Soul Patch Man #1” and I became “Soul Patch Man #2”. For the next few weeks whenever we spotted a soul patch man we would add to our list. It was fun, like we were a little club – the soul patch brotherhood. The moral of the story is that soul patches are more popular than you might think, but I still look like a loser with one. Sorry guys, I’m out of the brotherhood.

The Experiment

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out if people treat me differently based on the style of facial hair that I’m sporting. Like yesterday, I’ve got a very rugged 4 day stubble going – just enough to show that I mean business. And the barista at Starbucks gave me a venti for the price of a grande. And when I asked why she just kind of giggled, as if to say: “because you look so damn sexy today, Mr. Stubble, because you look so damn sexy!”

Or, maybe she just hit the wrong key on the register. But I think we know that it was the stubble. Anyway, I’ll keep tracking the results and will update you with any interesting findings.

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