Wednesday, April 9, 2008
A Temporary Defense of Beards
So, I have finally made it into a post by Rachel due to my current growth of a beard. Obviously I am not one of the minority that is spoken of by several of the ladies that actually look good with a beard. O no, I am one of those gnarly-wanna-be-mountain-man-looking guys. But that is alright. I really do not mind being placed in that category and I will explain why it actually works to my advantage. But first let me explain, briefly, the history of my annual beard.
It all began once I started teaching English at Charter Oak High School (2001). One of my sisters taught history at a Junior High School and created her own costumes that reflected the traditional wardrobe of specific times and cultures. I thought it would be nice to borrow a few such costumes for my teaching of The Odyssey and Shakespeare, both of which had a more authentic feel with a beard. When I went to Norco High School a year and a half ago, I discontinued the practice of dressing up for a specific unit (I no longer live near my sister who has the costumes).
Nevertheless, last year I grew out the beard once again but this time out of convenience. Rachel is absolutely right that beard may be associated with laziness, for this was exactly my intent when I ruptured my achilles tendon and was in a cast and on crutches for several months. Everything about my life slowed down--I had to begin waking up extra early in order to awkwardly bathe myself, get dressed, hobble down the stairs to my car (driving manual was quite fun--painful pushing in that clutch for the first few months), and the likes. It is important to note that I am not a morning person, so getting up extra-early was not a valid option. . . I had to begin figuring out ways to cut down on preparation time. The shaving of my head and the growing of my beard saved a good 15 minutes in the morning by not having to shave and do my hair (laziness, yes--but justified laziness in my opinion).
So, why the beard now?* Well, it is a tradition for me to grow it out this time of year now, and perhaps I will continue in this tradition until I am in a serious relationship in which the woman asks me not to grow it out--I will surely comply under such circumstances, but while I am free and single, who cares? It actually works to my advantage in being single. According to Rachel's poll, most women do not like men with facial hair and according to the comments left there are a small few who are able to pull off the look, but let us look at the advantages that the beard, even a gnarly one, offers to single men.
(1) Warmth in colder climates, (2) Food storage for a temporary time of famine, (3) An expression of masculinity in a world where the two genders are merging (the overlapping of roles and what is deemed as acceptable and appropriate for the sexes--there isn't a whole lot to distinguish between the two these days, especially with hairstyles, piercings, tattoos, and etc.), (4) Once it is long enough (ZZ Top Style) it makes for a nice leash by which wives may lead their husbands in tow to whatever event or task they desire (an actual, physical leash rather than the invisible one's that the rest of the wives of the world have on their men:), (5) Reverting back to childhood (beards are the adult version of dressing up to play that we did as a child--we would look lame running around in cowboy suits, frontiersman costumes, or cavemen garb--but the beard allows a grown man to "play" exactly that in his own mind, (6) A hand dryer to ensure that a man washes his hands after using a public bathroom (how many men fail to wash their hands after using the bathroom--it is a disgusting phenomenon, but I am sure that it is due to the fact that the paper towel dispenser is empty and the guy simply doesn't want to walk around with wet hands--if he has his beard, not an issue!), (7) Emergency preparedness. What happens when the apocalypse arrives and all modern convenience is destroyed? One is going to need to provide heat and a means to cook somehow, and a man with a beard simply needs to cut off the beard in order to provide kindling in order to start a fire, (8) Family time with the kids. What about those families that cannot afford to buy their children cool little toys like velcro dart-boards? It is much cheaper to create your own little "fuzzy objects" that will stick in dad's beard--kids can have hours of fun with their fathers that they could not have otherwise if it were not for the beard!
Okay, so these reasons are getting really stupid and I will be surprised if you have managed to keep reading to this point. But in all seriousness, having a temporary beard does work to my advantage, being a single man. I'm just an average looking guy, nothing to really get the ladies excited about, but by growing a beard I truly become repulsive to them. The idea is, once I have had a beard for a couple of months, the ladies become accustomed to it--they do not like it, but they become used to it. Then I shave it off. Suddenly, I am looking really good in comparison to what I just was. . . my lady friends begin to notice and for a brief time, I actually look better than what I really am. Everything in life is a matter of perception and perspective. I'm simply using this concept to my advantage.**
*Actually, in a scheme to get my students to try their best on STAR testing (standardized testing required by the government by which schools receive a rating, yet it has no impact on the students personally so many of them don't even try to do well) I have made a deal with them, that if they promise to do their best on the test (I have had them sign a contract), I will allow them to design my beard for a day before I shave it off (I have had some interesting designs come in so far that students will get to vote upon).
**So this really isn't in all seriousness as I claim, but it sounds good in theory.