The benefits of having a beard

Man fur. Face blanket. Soup strainer. These are some of the names my friends have used to refer to my beard.

I’ve never thought I would grow out a beard. I come from a family of facial hair and I promised myself I wouldn’t continue the trend.

But alas, I grew out my beard for a girl who liked facial hair and never looked back. I went from the clean cut studious high school student look to a man beast with the presence of a lumberjack, thinking power of a philosopher, and strength of a bear. Or so I like to think. I have the jealousy and respect of the beardless men. Many of whom ask me what it’s like to have a beard.

Contrary to popular belief, having a beard is not all grizzly magnificence. This is what it’s like to have a beard:

Crumb dumpster. Sponge. I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing but my beard often smells (and sometimes even tastes) like what I ate or drank recently. It absorbs my surroundings and the smell of it is an easy give away of what I did the previous day.

I was grilling the other day and my beard smelled like smoke for the next 24 hours. It only changed because I drank a gallon of coffee.

If I drink anything alcoholic, I lose. My beard will smell like it no matter how much shampoo, conditioner, soap or face wash I put in it.

Natural fidgeter. It is obvious when I am under a lot of stress. There are two places that will lack facial hair from my picking and stroking. Cranial strength increases dramatically the moment I touch my beard. Also, I look smarter. In an interview and completely lost?

Stroke your beard and nod, don’t smile, just nod and stroke. Want to intimidate an opponent in a chess match or debate? Stroke plus intense stare does the trick.

Man Makeup. A beard can single-handedly transform your face. But it isn’t free. Having a beard takes maintenance. You must wash, trim, and shape it meticulously.

All it takes is one mistake and you have to shave completely. I have done this twice. Both times I shaved my beard off completely. Both times my mom laughed when she saw me.

Face sweater, face warmer, man shield. The wind can have a mean bite to uncovered skin.

I remember shaving my beard one time and having a tan line on my face because my skin was so protected by my manly fur.

When I stepped outside the next morning to play some tennis, it felt like little pinches all over my face. Not only did I look wimpy child again, but I was like a lost hairless puppy.

That is what I am without my beard: a scared boy puppy with no guide. My beard is my guide and without it, I am lost.

And so my man fur will stay on my face in all its scruffy glory lifting me from the depths of baby face manhood to the wooded wilderness of wisdom. And remember: with great beard comes great responsibility.