The Importance of a Good Beard

By Jason Menard

I’ll admit it. I have facial hair envy. I, like many of you reading this, have had it since we were young and it’s a condition that will afflict us for the rest of our lives.

I dream of growing a beard. Not just a well-groomed, dainty dusting of hair along the jaw line, but a full-on, Unabomber-esque, all-encompassing facial flora! I want birds to be able to nest in my beard. I want hermits to come out of hiding and accept me as one of their own!

Of course, I also want to stay married to my wife and not scare my children, so that dream stays held in check.

I’ve been blessed/cursed with the ability to amass a solid growth of facial hair in very little time. Generally I get through life wearing a modern goatee (which is actually a van dyke – true goatees only consist of chin whiskers.) My wife prefers me with that little bit of facial hair and I hate shaving, so it’s a good compromise. But every so often, I get the urge to experiment with facial hair. To dream about what I would look like with a little more growth here and a little extra trim there.

The growing of facial hair is a right of passage for many men. When we’re younger we’re desperately hoping for those first chin whiskers to make their appearance on our face so that we can justify shaving – because shaving is cool, it’s manly, and there’s nothing more a teenaged boy is dying to be than to be manly. There may only be two little hairs poking through the skin, but they’re enough to break out the razor and cut our last ties to our youth!

Beyond the perceived need to shave, nothing signifies manhood more than finally being able to grow a noticeable amount of facial hair. Whether it’s a goatee, a van dyke, a beard, or a mustache, facial hair equals virility! Few young boys dream of growing up with a cherubesque, Dorian Grey-smooth visage. We don’t want to be classically beautiful – we want to be ruggedly handsome, and a beard is the best way we know to signify manhood.

So desperate is our desire to cling to that vision of manliness that we’ll put up with the ugliest, rattiest displays of facial scruff in the known universe. How many times have you seen some kid in their mid to late teens sporting this embarrassing, Fisher-Price-My-First-Mustache growth on their upper lip that consists of about a dozen, stringy, long hair.

Yet, while we all look on with amusement, inside that boy is standing a foot taller. His shoulders are pushed back, his chin is held high, and his confidence is soaring simply because he has a mustache. To the rest of the world his facial hair may be reminiscent of the fur on a wet dog, but to him he has a Tom Selleck-eque growth.

And speaking of Selleck, recently to celebrate a Hawaiian shirt day at work, I decided to take the opportunity to channeling my inner Magnum. I shaved off the majority of my facial hair, leaving behind only the mustache – the most maligned of facial hairs. Yet I could only handle it for a day. To my dismay I was less Tom Selleck and more Ron Jeremy. Yes, for that one day I was the not-so-proud bearer of the dreaded Pornstache! The fantasy in my head couldn’t live up to the reality on my lip.

In our minds, we can all grow the perfect beard or the divine mustache. In my youth, one of the most popular players in baseball was Rollie Fingers. And I’m positive he was revered less for his handle of a curveball, and more for his handlebar mustache. Lanny McDonald? Good player, great ‘stache! Sean Connery was dapper in his youth, but distinguished with the advent of age and a beard. As men, we see how they pull off this dramatic facial hair with flair and élan and, in a follicular leap of faith we figure that we could do the same.

But the reality is that very few of us can pull off facial hair at all – and even fewer can make the risky leap into mustache territory without looking like a used car salesman. We’d all like to think that we can sport thick, lush beards – but really most people out there are plagued with bald spots, patchy growth, and feeble growth.

So now I’ll just grow back my beloved goatee. And I’ll be content knowing that I can grow a nice, full van dyke, even if there are a few more flecks of white and grey in it than I’d like.

But I know that contentment will be short-lived. The lessons I’ve learned today will be washed away like yesterday’s whiskers, and I’ll make my next foray into follicular fantasy. After all, how hard can it be? Right?

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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