The bearded wonder strikes again

January 7, 2010

Guelph Mercury, 06/01/10beard

Abraham Lincoln had one. ZZ top had ’em. Heck, Jesus practically invented them.

So, the thinking goes, having one would put a man in good company, right? I’m talking, of course, about beards. Those fuzzy jaw warmers that grow right out of your face like some kind of prickly Chia Pet. And for free!

Why are we talking beards? Maybe it’s just too cold outside. Or maybe it’s this impulse from that buried caveman gene that at one time or another tugs at all men.

Last month, after growing tired of getting lashed by another frigid wind tearing at my scarf, I began to wonder: why should only lumberjacks and the Amish have all the fun?

Whatever it was, after much serious thought, I had decided to grow a beard. Something to do with a certain lady in my life suggesting it would look charming. Or was it chumpish? I can’t remember now.

Anyway, this was to be no easy task.

The last time I tried to grow one, I was still in my early 20s, and it was a less than impressive effort. It looked like I had spread school glue on my face and tripped onto a barber shop floor.

But I had wizened and aged much since then, and was certain I was carrying the potential to grow a fierce, thick Grizzly-Adams beard.

I needed to do some research. I read how “the male beard communicates an heroic image of the independent, sturdy, and resourceful pioneer, ready, willing and able to do manly things,” according to the non-biased and always dependable website,

I was ready to do many manly things.

The website’s creator went on to explain how aborted beards are still cooler than never trying to grow one at all: “Even if they later choose not to remain bearded, it is still a success story because they had the dedication—and even courage—to go through the beard growing experience at least once.”

Yes. It takes courage. And Rogaine. Lots and lots of Rogaine.

So I sprouted a beard. Not quite a Grizzly Adams, but not quite a peach fuzz patch, either. And it was a remarkable thing to behold. I swear on quiet nights, you could hear the thing growing.

Suddenly, people seemed to pay more attention to what I had to say. I’d walk into a coffee shop, and everyone would quiet down, as if to say “Quiet now, the bearded man is about to speak.”

I also discovered beards do the strangest things to women. Some recoil when presented with a new beard, like you smeared kitty litter across your face. Bad men have beards. Then again, bad men have beards. And, so my sources tell me, some women like bad men.

But the line between handsome man and homeless man is a thin line, fraught with many stray whiskers. You must remain in control of the beard, or it will begin to control you.

That was the dark side of going bearded, the side doesn’t want you to know about. The website didn’t mention that dinners stayed with you for days, like you were carrying Velcro around on your face. I began shampooing and conditioning the entire mess, but to no avail.

I also discovered another sad truth about beards: a woman might like the look of a bearded man, but would rather not kiss someone whose whiskers go up her nose.

Nuff said. After a month of shaveless mornings, the beard disappeared in an hour of slashing, hacking and cutting. For a few minutes, I didn’t recognize the bare-faced imposter staring back at me in the bathroom mirror.

I had walked on the wooly side, and that was enough.

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