Before beards became a trend, I never felt the need to write about facial landscaping. It seemed to me like just another personal choice that doesn’t require explanation. But with the Internet being what it is, beards are suddenly a hot topic. Driven, of course, by guys with beards and the women/men who love them.
Beards are very hip these days, and it’s not difficult to find a list of reasons why every man should have one. Many of those reasons are steeped in machismo with the inevitable hint of insecurity. (Funny — the link I intended to share there has gone private. It's like they know I'm clean-shaven...) On the other hand, many guys genuinely rock beards, and it’s cool that we have such a natural and ever-flexible fashion statement at our disposal.
Just don’t expect me to ever have a beard. For one thing, unlike most guys (and even myself a few years ago), I prize my baby face. I have no desire whatsoever to look older than I am, an age that gets higher with every passing year. I work harder and harder every year to maintain what angles I still have in my face, and I’m not ready to cover those up just yet.
Also, I’m not a naturally hairy person. It takes a week to look like I have dirt on my face, let alone to fully wolf out. Three days’ growth is usually enough to make my face feel too prickly to press on, anyway. (One day’s growth, on the other hand, I often do on purpose to look like the mystery man I’m most definitely not.)
The closest I’ve ever come to serious facial hair is having muttonchops glued on my face for my frame or two as an unidentifiable speck in the movie Beautiful Creatures.
|There's a reason for that.|
The final reason I’m not big on beards requires a little bit of backstory. From the early 1980s on, my dad was clean-shaven. But in my earliest years, he often cycled in mustaches and beards (following nearly a decade of constant facial hair). Anytime I saw him with it either in person or in pictures, I thought he looked terrifying. I’m not sure why, but it might have tied in to why helmet-clad football players used to scare me too — I thought they were a different type of human being.
This was also the period in which my parents began stockpiling Atari games. One of them was Othello. This was the cover illustration.
That Mount Rushmore of manliness frightened me so much that I broke open our Othello cartridge in an attempt to kill it. At 3 years old. I tried to do the same thing to a broken Atari cartridge as an adult, and I couldn’t, even with a screwdriver. I must have been really scared of Othello.
To me, Dad’s clean-shaven face was his correct face. It was a sign that he was no longer in the hairy, dirty, disco 1970s, and had joined the ultra-modern 1980s, when I came along.
So you could say my clean-shaven face is not a sign of being unable to shoulder the weight of being a man, but a tribute to the ultra-modern 1980s.
Kenny Loggins aside, that is.