Some reflexions on a beardless life and the two months where I had a beard

Goodbye old friend.

Goodbye old friend.

I have never been a beard person, I attribute that to my father who as long as I’ve known him has always shaved and rarely missed a day. The longest I think I ever saw him go without shaving was when he was in the hospital after he had a stroke in 2017. I think he might have gone three days.

My siblings however have all dipped into the well of facial hair to varying degrees, my oldest brother, he had a moustache for a time in the 90s, which was maybe the last period of time where people had earnest moustaches, a couple of my other brothers now have beards. I think maybe because they are both losing their hair, it’s definitely a distraction.

It’s not all my dad’s fault though, I have often in the past resisted beards because I didn’t care for beard guys. I don’t just mean guys with beards. What I’m talking about are those guys who’s entire personality is based around having a beard, and people calling it ‘epic’, like, calm down folks, it’s hair.

My distaste for beard guys is up there with my distaste for feet, and my dislike of the word “dapper”, which I have to imagine is how a lot of people feel about “moist”, but honestly, I don’t really mind the word “moist”, it’s completely fine.

So anyways, I grew a beard this summer. This wasn’t the first time I had tried to get some facial hair going. In high school I thought it would be cool if I grew a playoff beard in support of the 2004 Calgary Flames playoff run. It was in hindsight, not cool. A couple years later I got into growing my sideburns, which was actually not cool either. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, being 20 and an idiot is hard.

And for most of the next decade my life would be a mostly shaven one. I wasn’t fanatical about it, I certainly never did it daily. I’d shave once or twice a week, and mostly live in a state of scruff.

I made a serious attempt at growing a beard in 2014 I believe it was. I was never really able to go longer than two weeks before this, it was too itchy and it always looked real dumb on me. I also hated facial hair in the winter. Condensation would build on the mustache portion and I think that feels so gross.

But I went a month without shaving, I might have gone longer if my brother’s wedding hadn’t come up. I was to be a groomsman, and so I kinda had to look not like trash. It wasn’t a great beard honestly, nobody would call it “epic”. I never really felt like it grew enough, It always felt like half a beard, I couldn’t get the length that my younger brother could. He is unbelievably hairy.

What changed this year?

Well, I graduated from journalism school for one, and lost my job for another. I didn’t really have any reason to shave anymore. My human contact was minimal, and mostly done via text message or facebook chat. A week without shaving became two weeks. I realized that the last time I had shaved was immediately before the World Cup began, the group stage was now over and I hadn’t shaved. The world didn’t end. So why not ride it out? Go the full month of the World Cup without shaving. Not for luck, or for any particular team, just do it for the sake of having a beard.

I decided to teach myself about beard maintenance, after a month there was some real growth and I needed to nourish that bad boy. Most of the itch had stopped, and it was much better than my last attempted beard.

I looked into oils and balms, and brushes for my beard. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, most of which were hosted by the kinds of beard guys I had hated for so long.

Honestly guys, you don’t look like a viking, you look like a barista.

My younger brother, he of the seemingly endless beard, gave me a bottle of beard oil, I think it was meant to smell minty, but I don’t think it ever quite got there. It wasn’t unpleasant though.

The biggest plus from the whole experience was the extra Instagram likes. Social media loves a beard.

My beard about one month in.

My beard about one month in.

But that was it, and it wasn’t really a significant increase.

It didn’t translate into any women falling madly in love with me, nobody called me epic, I wasn’t suddenly good at making coffee. I was for better and worse still me, and that was a problem.

A problem for the beard, that is.

I could no longer live this lie, I’m not a beard guy. There were aspects that I did enjoy, the added social media attention, having something extra to play with when idle. I thought I would miss the beard more than I do. I thought that I would instinctively attempt to pull on it or rub it when in deep thought.

But I don’t.

It’s been about a month since I gave it up, and it’s like I never had it. I don’t plan on growing it out again anytime soon, but who knows. For now though, life is back to normal, I am still wildly unpopular on social media, I am still on track to die alone and unloved. I am saving money on beard oil though.