So I’m growing a beard. I’m not sure how I feel about it, to tell you the truth, and it’s not just because my beard hasn’t come in all the way. See, I’ve got all these splotchy patches—parts of my face where there should be beard but isn’t—so to the casual observer it looks like I’m either midway through transforming into a werewolf or I’ve been making out with a lawnmower.
But that’s not the big problem. My real concern is that, well, I’m just not sure I’m a Beard Guy. Ever since the Supreme Court passed its landmark judgment (Man v. Razor, 1964), Beard Guys have been running rampant: Paul Bunyan, Chuck Norris, Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments.” These are Real Men. You know the type: forearms like Popeye, wardrobe like the Brawny guy, and hairy. All over. Seriously, if you were to see one of these guys at the beach, you’d swear they were wearing a cardigan. Course you’d never say anything because you value your dental work too much. Now as much as Real Men love to fight, it’s really only foreplay for their real passion: looking under the hood of cars. What are they looking for? Who knows! Whatever it is though, I pity it because the moment the Real Man finds it—RIP!—that part’s as good as gone.
Macho man? You betcha!
Another thing about Real Men is that they’re low maintenance. But if they did decide to shave for some reason (i.e. they’d run out of bears to wrestle that day), you wouldn’t find them using a pansy Gillete Fusion razor or slapping on some Nivea Aftershave Balm. Hell, Real Men just whip out their switchblades and, in a real manly way, scrape those pesky hairs off one by one. Incidentally, they’d do this while looking under the hood.
Of course, Real Men are only half of the Beard Guy population. The other half’s made up of Intellectual Men, otherwise known as “the beard stroking community.” Seriously, these guys cannot help but stroke their beard while talking. It’s great, though. Not only does the beard complement their intellectual mystique, it also covers up, what I can only imagine is, a nasty dermatological condition that can only be soothed by constant rubbing. But in all seriousness, you can’t help but be intimidated by Intellectual Men. They do the New York Times crossword puzzle (the Sunday edition!) for fun and use terms like “hypertensive encephalopathy” in everyday conversation. They’re also extremely cultured. When out to dinner with Intellectual Men you can expect to hear the following phrases:
a) “This Riesling is absolutely transplendid.”
b) “Do I detect a hint of fennel in this dish?”
c) “Honestly, Bogata is so underwhelming this time of year.”
On the contrary, you will never, upon any circumstance, hear Intellectual Men say any of the following:
a) “So, who do you think will win ‘Project Runway’ this season?”
b) “Did you catch that battle royal steel cage match last night on ‘Raw’?”
c) “So THAT’S why this call this place Hooters, eh?”
This is my problem. I don’t fit into any of these ridiculous and narrowly defined categories that are for entertainment purposes only and in no way indicate either my death wish or my desire to receive angry e-mails from hoards of bearded men—excuse me, bearded persons—who found the above stereotypes to be insulting. Take it easy on me, all right? I’m going through a beard crisis right now.
So what’s a guy to do? Shave or not shave? My wife, the bearer of kisses, is not in favor of the scruff. My parents, the bearers of guilt, made an initial effort to support my beard with comments like “It looks…interesting!” and “Well, you certainly look…different!” but in the past few days, they’ve let their true feelings slip: “You have such a nice face…why cover it up with an ugly beard?”
And then there’s my take on it, which is, quite simply, I feel like an imposter. Like when somebody asks me who I think will win the Super Bowl and, in an effort to fit in without revealing the fact that I know absolutely nothing about sports, respond “The Yankees.” The fact of the matter is that I’m just not a facial hair guy and yet, here I am, walking around, pretending to be a member of Beard Guy society—knowing full well that I can be discovered at any given moment for the fraud that I am. It’s ridiculous. And that is why I must shave the beard! I must be true to myself! I must do this for ME! Well, and for my wife. After all, she’s the bearer of kisses.