Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Letting It Grow

I had, at the end of October last year, a serious case of beard malaise. It was time to trim, but I was bored. Should I try a new configuration? Over the past couple of decades, I've sported just about every conceivable facial hairstyle: I've had muttonchops, goatees, van dykes, chinstraps, donegals, you name it. Frankly, I was bored. What to do? What hadn't I already done? Holding the clippers in my hand, I just couldn't decide.

Then I realized that there was one thing I hadn't done yet: simply letting it grow. So obvious! I put the clippers down.

So now I have a four-inch beard. It just reaches my shirt collar, but doesn't overlap it yet. It's very dense, very wavy. It's so much fun! You should totally do it! Here are some assorted observations and lessons learned:

  • Reactions have been strongly positive both in and out of the workplace. I've only had one colleague tell me (to my face) that they flat-out didn't like it. 
  • Some coworkers have shown some trepidation by asking, "So... just how... long... are you going to grow it?" I'm not sure! My standard response is, "At least long enough to make wearing a bow tie pointless."
  • It's fun to realize that this is the longest any hair on my head has been in thirty years.
  • I usually have kept my hair and beard very closely cropped, so I only ever needed one product in the shower: a bar of soap. Over the past few months, however, I've had to buy all sorts of things I haven't needed in decades, like... a brush! A comb! Shampoo! Conditioner! Styling products! 
  • Speaking of styling products, I quickly discovered that mustache wax is neither optional nor just an affectation, unless I feel like having a mouthful of hair all day, which I don't, or having every beverage I drink run down my face with each sip, which isn't a particularly cute look. You can use wax to keep the mustache out of the way and have it still look natural; you don't have to make curlicues or go all Salvador Dali. After applying the wax (which takes some practice), you can comb and brush it out to look brushy and more-or-less normal.*
  • On the other hand, why not use the wax to make curlicues or points?  The possibilities are endless. I did discover, however, that having three-inch-long hair spikes on either side of my mouth is perhaps a bit much for my workplace (ha ha, they'll get over it).
  • One colleague said to me, "Whenever I grow out my beard, I start looking like a lumberjack or a bum." I replied, "That's where wardrobe comes in." You won't look like a lumberjack in a Luciano Barbera sport coat.
  • People ask me about it SO MUCH! I expected that, but have still been surprised at just how much of a conversational topic it has become.
  • Do I have a facial hair fetish? No. Beards don't "turn me on" in and of themselves. I do love facial hair, but I don't love it, if you know what I mean.
  • Just in the last couple of weeks I've had complete strangers express their admiration for my beard. It's kind of strange. 
  • I've always been insecure about my abnormally long neck. I got taunted for it all through school, and people have constantly commented upon it all my life. Now nobody can see it!
So anyway, my advice is this: if you can grow out your facial hair, you should do it! At least once. It's harmless and fun. My one regret is that I didn't do this a few years ago when I still had lots of red in my facial hair (all the red has turned completely white now).

I'll keep you posted with any noteworthy beard developments.

*Update: if your facial hair is long enough, and you're mustache-wax-curious, but would like to try it out before buying some, try plain ol' glue stick! It's basically the same stuff (a wax-based adhesive), holds really well, and washes out easily with soap and water.  I keep a dedicated stick at my desk at work for touch-ups.


HRH King Friday XIII, Ret. said...

Do it!!!!!

Peteykins said...

I'm not looking forward to the "ZZ Top" comments, but realize that they are inevitable.

Anonymous said...

You're hip and with it now. Here in Austin our beloved Austin Facial Hair Club just had our bearding championships. With categories like "Best Groomed", "Best Sprint" (6 mos. growth), "Baby Beard", and "Bearded Lady", there's something for everyone. I look forward to lots of great beardly updates. More photos:

AustinDave said...

Bah.. I'm anonymous above.

Peteykins said...

Austin Dave, I did, of course, watch "Whisker Wars," and the Austin guys were by far my favorites.

nixiebunny said...

Tee hee. I was just going to say something about ZZ Top.

ZZ Top likes to hang out in Tucson, so there inevitably comes a time when someone says, "Hey! Look at that guy with the ZZ Top beard!" Then you get to inform them that it *really is* a ZZ Top beard.

Muscato said...

Bravo! I've been on a hair adventure, too (growing it long, longer, longest, and now tying it back) and have been having great fun. I couldn't manage a long beard (not thick enough), but I've had the basic model for the past four years or so and still appreciate it's chins-hiding efficiency...

Do we get so see a picture at some point?

Rosa S. Levy said...

I assumed we were seeing it in the photo at the top.

blank dept. said...

hmmmm. hair. germs. dirt. arent these things related in our noses? Perhaps hair can be thought of as fiber too though. so like, fluffy slippers, clean towels, spiffy pants. ok, why not grow a beard?

Peteykins said...

Congratulations, blank dept, for posting what may be the most incoherent comment ever on this blog.

Toriko said...

My husband and myself are fans of a novelty band called "The Beards". Their goal is to raise awareness of beard discrimination and write funny songs. If you want a chuckle, I recommend a youtube search, oh bearded one.

Comradde Physiproffe said...

Dude, you are so fucken lucky! My facial hair us so sparse and scraggly I can't grow jacke shitte.

Lulu Maude said...

You'll be eligible for all sorts of new religions.