It’s beard-growing season. Every October I begin my beard harvest. My face isn’t exactly the greatest soil in which to grow a productive layer of grizzly stubble, so it takes me a little longer than a lot of other beard farmers.
And thanks to my Euro trash roots, I also have the unfortunate luck of being born a blonde with terribly pale skin. The combination gives my face a sort of prepubescent peachy fuzziness at certain points in the growing process.
But every year, despite the bone-gnawing urges to itch through my cheekbones with a rusty butter knife, I grow a beard — basking in the bohemian festivity of it all.
There’s something about cold weather than simply merits and requires a scruffy but intellectually intense beard wrapped around one’s jaw line.
It’s not for the chicks, either. I get mixed responses on that one. Some girls say they hate a wooly face of fur, while others find it triggers certain tingles of happiness in odd places.
Either way, growing and maintaining a well-kept beard sort of excites the inner knife-hurling Hemingway in me. It’s a right of passage in the spectrum of manhood.
Sure, plenty of sketchy sorts have helped bastardized the image of our beloved beard over the years. Charles Manson, 9/11 terrorists, and James Brolin from “The Amityville Horror” have all helped attach an unattractive lunatic stigma to beards.
But in contrast, there have been far more decent bearers of the beard in history than those who raped it of its dignity.
Cat Stevens, Gandalf, Zeus, Abraham Lincoln, Papa Smurf. All of them wore their beards with pride, making the saintly scruff part of their unique identities.
It is in honor of those greats that professional hockey players grow playoff beards each year, in hopes of snatching Lord Stanley’s Cup. Or that ZZ Top and Creedence rock that much harder than the average band.
It is through the power of beards that Jesus Christ Himself is made that much holier than the John Does of society.
Maybe that’s an over exaggeration. Not everyone sports the beard to become a better guitar player or a better writer. Maybe the mysticism behind a typical beard rests in personal preferences and superstitions.
I knew a guy who grew a beard during the NFL season, in hopes his beloved Raiders wouldn’t get caught cheating yet again.
Another guy started to sprout something that resembled a mess of deranged pubic hair on his chin because he thought he’d score higher on exams.
But for me personally? I’m not sure. The older I get, the more I really appreciate having grown up in the rusticity of New England.
The amount of history that just pours out of every inch of New England soil is uncanny, as there’s a real sense of walking over holy ground in even the most mundane of locations.
Maybe for me, my connection to history sprouts from my facial pores, and somehow that hyper-tunes me into the frequency of the Earth.
Or maybe I just hate shaving.