In the days before the recent bearded renaissance, many considered beards shady and suspicious. Unless you were a lumberjack or Amish, beardsmen were thought to be, much like their beards themselves, full of secrets. Luckily for us, beardsmen are now more commonplace than ever and these days it’s the guys without facial hair that seem to be getting glanced at questionably.
Even with the recent change though, every beardsmen has some interesting insights involving his bearded experience, each with their own revelations and secrets uncovered since embracing their scruffier outer selves. Depending on how long your beard is and how long you’ve been growing it, each beardsman’s confessions may differ, but for me there are a few that stand out from the pack.
1. I’m Always Checking Out Other Dude’s Beards
When you spend as much time thinking about your own beard as I do, you eventually start noticing how other beardsmen cut, style, and treat their facial hair. For instance, I’m always looking at where other guys make their cut line: do they let it creep down their necks or do they shave just beneath their jaw lines?
This can sometimes lead to some quizzical moments and accidental eye contact, but for the most part when a fellow beardsman sees me looking in his direction, there’s usually a casual nod of recognition and then we’re both on our way. At least, I’m assuming that’s all that’s happening.
2. My Beard Once Caught On Fire
Gas grills can be problematic, especially after a few afternoon beers. I found this out the hard way when I was 21 and although it was mildly terrifying, the experience of a grill exploding in my face cemented my interest in always having a beard.
First, let me explain. I was at a barbecue and the host asked me to start the grill for him. Being a good attendee, I did as he said, without taking the time to listen to his specific lighting instructions and instead observing the bounty of beautiful women who’d also been invited to the party. Rather than hearing a gargled version of Charlie Brown teacher-speak, I should’ve heard the host tell me to open the propane tank and let it flow for 10 seconds with the grill’s lid open before pressing the ignition switch. Instead, I let the propane flow for nearly five minutes with the lid closed before pressing the ignition switch. As you might expect, this created a minor explosion that led to my beard and bangs catching on fire, however, I happened to be standing poolside when this occurred and was able to quickly extinguish the flames by diving in fully-clothed with little harm done.
After drying off, a reasonable man would’ve cut his hair and shaved off his now singed beard, but I decided to stupidly ride it out looking like I’d lost a battle with a very strong hair straightener. Oh youth… Long story short, my skin was completely unharmed because of the protective shield that my beard provided. If I ever questioned my beard’s importance prior to that, I certainly haven’t since.
3. I Have a Beard Because I’m Lazy
One of the many stereotypes of us beardsmen is that we’re simply lazy and don’t feel like shaving all the time. Well, of course we don’t! No one likes to shave, especially to the point of being completely-shaven 24/7. Of course, although I now keep my beard because I strongly identify with it, enjoy the way it looks, and like that it helps give me a more defined face, I originally started growing a beard simply because shaving all the time is both irritating and silly.
Obviously there are some guys for one reason or another look and feel better without facial hair, and more power to them, but for the rest of us, we enjoy having beards because we enjoy the experience of being a beardsman and we get those few minutes back each day when we would otherwise be shaving. What do we use those minutes for? Oh who knows, some beardsmen might use them to stare methodically off into space or to split logs for the upcoming winter. Me? I’m probably using that time to delay putting on pants.
4. Food Has Dropped Out of My Beard Before
As I’ve written before, most beardsmen have experienced finding rogue debris in their facial hair at some point, whether that’s from a messy meal or rolling around in the park. Sometimes though, we’re the perpetrators and when it comes to using your beard as your own personal pantry, everyone gets what’s coming to them.
About a year and a half after graduating from college, I was working as a glorified gopher/wearer of many hats at a tech startup in Austin, TX. Besides lacking a very structured role in the company, I also happened to be one of the few non-developers to have long hair and/or a beard. This, of course, led to many shenanigans around the office. For instance, one day a coworker asked if I’d ever stored snacks in my facial hair. Gross, yes, but not completely out of the question. Thinking about it, I decided to test his theory by inserting an almond into the hair beneath my jaw line, which I soon forgot about before heading into a conference call. Fast forward a half hour and my time to speak had come. As I leaned into the phone, the almond escaped from my beard and dropped onto the large wooden conference table. I immediately froze and was met with laughter from one of the sales guys on one side and a mix of horror and disgust from a gal on my other side, who was currently experiencing her first day on the job. Let’s just say that I haven’t used my beard as a food receptacle since, but maybe it’s time to double check.
5. My Beard Is the Ultimate Conversation Starter
I’m tall, I have somewhat long hair that I sometimes have pulled back into a bun, and I have a beard. Each one of these things in its own right leads to a whole number of interesting conversations, but my beard always seems to be the number one icebreaker. Although as an increasing number of guys opt to let their beards grow out, a few years ago having a beard was much less common and for those individuals who are fans of beards, spotting a beardsman out in the wild was a much less frequent occurrence. On top of that, I’ve always kept my beard at a somewhat contained length, along with ensuring that it’s both clean and conditioned for the most part. In other words, my beard has always announced my arrival without drawing attention for the wrong reasons.
I’ve had people come up to me at bars, airports, and parties just to name a few places, simply asking how long it took for my beard to grow to whatever length it’s currently at and, once the initial awkwardness is out of the way, if they can touch my beard. This has led to some interesting situations to say the least, but if my being treated like a glorified dog leads to more people accepting and supporting other beardsmen then feel free to give it a feel.