Why Is It Every Man Declares a Beard Season?

It is destined that every man should attempt to grow facial hair, and each of them revisit this notion every so often just to terrify us. While some men look great with facial hair, let’s agree that most either: 1) don’t, or 2) can’t grow (or perhaps groom) something on their faces.

These spats of eschewing the razor seem to be done as a show of brotherhood with the guys or some weird seasonal hunter/caveman phase. In actuality, these spells are more a test of the marriage vows. I mean, we did say till death, but we never thought to add a disclaimer about a beard-growing marathon. Brad Pitt has proven that good looks can’t overcome a bad beard.

Last December my husband and I were having dinner with a group of couples and one husband was cheerfully passing around his Iphone to show us pictures of his No Shave November. Meanwhile his wife confessed that she was still recovering from living that month with her spouse’s hirsute alter ego. “I couldn’t even look at him while he was talking,” she confessed of his transformation. “I couldn’t concentrate enough to actually hear what he was saying; it was as if all that hair just drowned it out.” (Did I mention November was their anniversary month? MAJOR vow test.)

Of course, it wasn’t enough to just grow out a beard, because then he became consumed with ways to experience all the possibilities as he strategically shaved the growth away, one transforming swipe (goatee > scruff > soul patch) at a time.

Mark Twain, opining about the many useless apendages of humans (tonsils, appendix, etc.)  asked, “What is his beard for?  It performs no useful function; it is a nuisance and a discomfort; all nations hate it; all nations persecute it with the razor. And because it is a nuisance and a discomfort, Nature never allows the supply of it to fall short, in any man’s case, between puberty and the grave. You never see a  man bald-headed on his chin.

But his hair! It is a graceful ornament, it is a comfort, it is the best of all protections against certain perilous ailments, man prizes it above emeralds and rubies. And because of these things Nature puts it on, half the time, so that it won’t stay.

Maybe the beard thing is just a harmless, natural effort to prove something we can’t understand. When you know your hair cuts – for whatever hair does stay – will be requested as blade numbers for the rest of your life (four on the top, make it a three on the sides) perhaps the appeal of experimenting with facial hair is just too irresistible. Whatever. Until razor cartridge we part.