Beards

Wrote this as I approached 40. Don’t ask how long ago that was!?

BEARDS

What’s the deal with goatees nowadays? Everyone seems to go through the goatee phase, as far as I can see. Maybe it’s just something men nearing 40 feel the need to do. 40 is approaching and man’s genes that code for age avoidance start kicking in. Hey, look at yourself, buddy! You’re getting old. Time to get a goatee, because that will really help distract everyone from your wrinkles, your spreading stomach and your slowing stroll towards the donut store.

Except that not everyone suits a goatee.

For some men, it highlights their embarrassing inability to really grow a beard. After all, testosterone is not evenly distributed among the male contingent. Some in their twenties still can’t muster much more than a few wisps, so a goatee at 38 isn’t likely to do much more.

Bill, the one who likes to make rude jokes, and thinks beer cans are a sign of manliness, tries for three months to grow one, and he’s greeted by Stephanie, the attractive receptionist who normally smiles at him politely as he enters the high-rise where he works. “Hello, Mr Baker, forgot to shave this morning?” she says innocently, genuinely thinking that he ran out of Gillette blades that morning. But no, he’s been cultivating the fluff on his chin for 12 weeks. 12 weeks! And it is still coming out in patches, like a corn field where the combine went out of control and cut a swathe right and left, leaving most of the field flattened. Grow, darn it! Come on! I’m a man, aren’t I? Why does my chin refuse to generate hair? Help!

What about the Trotsky beard? Chris, our friend, has one of those. All long and wispy and tangled. There could be organisms, quite big ones, growing in there. Very important to clean often when you have one of those. It needs to be combed carefully. You could lose your comb in there, though, if you’re not careful. Get to the barber for a trim, and he could be handing you four pairs of scissors, a brush, a comb and a can of hairspray as you leave. “Free gifts today?” you ask. “Nope. Er, I believe you arrived with these.”

So, beards. Never wanted one myself. Always thought a red beard wouldn’t look good. Peter, my brother, grows a huge red Father Christmas kind of beard. Enormous and bushy. A genuine feast of a beard. A beard that belittles anyone else’s. It’s like the bully of beards. Peter enters the room with that, and all those university lecturers or worship leaders, with their trimmed efforts, are left cowering in the corners. It cries out “I’m big and bad! And you, sir, with your coiffured offering? What do you think that is? What’s a beard for, if you trim it and comb it and make it all neat? What are you? A woman?!”

Speaking of which, some women do grow beards. Now, that must be embarrassing and a serious problem. Why don’t they cut them into goatees, though? You could hold a ‘his and hers’ goatee party to compare the difference between the men and women’s goatees. Who knows, perhaps Sally from accounting could outdo Jerry in sales. “Hey, Jerry, call that a goatee? Yours looks more like a corn field that’s been destroyed by an out of control combine harvester!”

Beards are funny, though, aren’t they? There’s something rather amusing about the growing of a beard. It’s like it has a life of its own. You’re never really in much control of the thing. Don’t get me started on kissing with a beard, because I’ve never done it, but I’m sure women speak of it in the third person, just as they do about certain other human appendages.

“Hey, buddy, move over. I’m trying to kiss your owner here. Stay to the side. I said, stay to the side! All right, I’m going to wet you down and then maybe you’ll sit still and not get in the way!”

“Honey, I’m right here. Ignore the beard. I’m sensing you like him better than me.”

“I don’t, I promise. Look at you, all bushy and cuddly . . .”

“Honey-“

“Okay, okay. I’m done.”

© Richard Collins 2014

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