“Does it itch?”
“How about when it gets longer?”
“Does it irritate your girlfriend?”
“Do you get food stuck in it?”; are most of the questions I get asked by friends and strangers alike. They are of course referring to my beard – Not my genitalia.
The answers are always; No. No. No. Yes (Which is convenient for long journeys).
The truth is, beards tend to fascinate people in the Western world. Other cultures have the beard built into their social DNA but here, in this side of the world, a beard raises a question or two.
“Never trust a man with a beard” is an old saying I’m sure we all have heard. A strange saying to say the least. Nonetheless one spread by a man with the inability to grow a face of hair. If these words of wisdom were true, should I not trust myself? If I tell myself not to trust myself because I have a beard, how can I trust what I say to be trustworthy given that I have a beard? No, I have a beard and am not to be trusted, so therefore I will ignore my advice and trust myself. But wait. I have a beard. Never trust a man with a beard. I’m so confused. AAAAAAAAAARGH! You can see my predicament.
If we were not to trust men with beards, where would we be now? Think of all the great men in history who sported a face rug. William Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, Vincent Van Gogh, Noel Edmonds. Okay, maybe not Edmonds, but what would have happened if our ancestors had shunned such great works purely on the basis that they ‘Had a beard’?
Santa Claus. Beard. Captain Birdseye . Beard. Even Jesus Christ had a beard. Jesus Christ. The man who invented Easter Eggs. Beard.
Look at politicians. Almost none of them sport a facial fuzz. George Bush, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, President Mugabe. Trustworthy? I think not. In fact you could say you should never trust an unbearded politician. David Cameron’s nowhere near growing a beard. A sign surely you should definitely never trust him. It’s foolproof. Never trust a politician without a beard (Ahem, Gerry Adams aside of course).
People ask me why I have a beard. There is no real answer other than; I can’t be bothered to shave. It really does just occur naturally. It’s not a life choice. It just happens. Honest. My face just sprouts hair regularly.
Having said that, there are elements of having such a creature that I enjoy. I enjoy stroking it when I get asked a posing question. I enjoy the fact that it confirms me to the younger generation as a ‘real adult’. I embrace that it enables me to tell strangers off. They listen, rarely questioning what I say. Maybe I enjoy that too much. But hey, shut up. I’ve got a beard.
What I do find interesting is that the beard is the only thing one man feels comfortable enough to approach another man – one whom he has never met – and compliment him on such. No man will ever do the same with jeans, t-shirt or shoes. And if they do, it would be met with an uneasy reaction. Not so with a beard compliment. Such a subject can be discussed openly and freely. Even more so than football. Trust me, next time you meet a fella who doesn’t like football (god forbid), unleash the subject of beards. If the conversation doesn’t pick up, then he’s probably not a bloke after all. In fact he’s not even human.
Maybe the downside is that tramps have almost cornered the beard market, and if you’re having a day of dressing down, you could be mistaken for such a travelling wilder beast. Just the other day, upon meeting me, my girlfriend commented that “I looked like a tramp”, but was quick to reassure me as she “Quite likes tramps”. Hmmm, not sure what’s worse.
I like my beard. But I’m off to the bathroom to shave it off. Why? Just because I like to do so every now and then. It’s like a cleansing process. A new start. Plus it’s an excuse to experiment with goatees and moustaches before deciding that; a) people with goatees get a bad rep for a reason, and, b) I’ve not quite got the minerals to go forth with the ‘tache.
The beard will be back of course. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be just as trust worthy with monkey fur attached, as I am without. I think finally we can dispel the myth. Bearded men can be trusted. Bearded women however….