“Lumbersexual” is pretty late to the game, right?
Like… wearing flannel and having a beard except hold-up-skrrrrrrt-you-aren’t-actually-staving-off-harsh-forested-winters has been a thing for a while now. And that there’s just now a term for it, and such a dubious one at that, seems strange. Feel like the whole “sexual”-as-suffix to describe an aesthetic is pretty played out at this point. Oh well. Catalogs gotta move weight somehow I guess.
Anyways, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to grow the bare minimum of facial hair necessary to be, I think, legitimately bearded.
It hasn’t always been easy. There’s the self-doubt, the hours spent questioning yourself, totally enraptured by the weirdly tufted face reflecting back at you. The literal big “M” Millions of dollars spent annually on razor blades. The blood shed from said razor blades. The morning you wake up and realize your whole bearded existence has been a thin, wavy, chronically itchy lie.
But, for every inevitable level of hell, for every cul-de-sac you find yourself stuck at the dead end of there are the bright spots, and by that I mean the heavily-haired spots; the moments that’ve arrived as a result of your every day refusal to lather up and call the whole thing off, those are the ones you’ll remember, those are the ones you’ll cherish, millimeter by precious millimeter.
1. The first hair.
Maybe it was at the beginning of puberty. Maybe it was towards the end. You don’t forget it though, that weird little wire sticking out of your face. You snipped it back then. Then watched, fascinated as it sprouted back up again, accompanied by another, and another.
You were on your way.
2. That first time you rub your cheek and feel mild sandpaper.
The logical next step was to get your Internet, gas and electric providers on speed dial, then fire up Turbo Tax, because you’re an adult now and you’ve got a lot of new responsibilities.
A few days later you had your first run-in with five-o-clock shadow and your disheveled game was taken to a whole new level.
3. Solemn Acknowledgement from a similarly face-quaffed guy.
Pretty much exactly the scene from Modern Family when Phil pretends to have a mustache:
“Nice mustache/beard/mutton-chops, Brother,” your Constituent will growl.
“You too, Brother,” you’ll say, a tight-lipped smile rustling the mane around your mouth and jaw-line.
You’re a part of something now. A fellowship. A covenant. A cabal. They will always have your back. You will always have theirs. To quote shirtless pillar of punk ethos, Damien Abraham, a high-ranking member of the fraternity, “It’s all been worth it/It’s all been worth it/It’s all been worth it,” and on and on and on.
4. Getting out of the shower.
This is the best.
You get out, water clinging to your fuzzy image in the mirror, towel-properly wrapped (you know, or not wrapped, the question is how pleased are you with yourself?) your hair slicked back like you’re Bond, James fucking Bond, and then you look yourself in the eye.
Or rather the chin, because what a chin. What an upper lip for that matter! And those cheekbones; Man, do they POP. This just might be the proudest part of your day if you’re moderately lucky.
And, if you’re on the thinner end of the facial focal spectrum like I am, this is the fullest your beard is likely to look. If you’re ever having doubts about continued growth, shower on it.
5. A special someone explicitly likes it.
Sure, you don’t need someone else telling you how much it rules, but a little validation never hurt anyone. This may even determine whether or not you stick with it or not. It turns out that most of having a beard is recommitting to having a beard every other day or so. And a compliment from the right person could give you another unimpeded couple of weeks, or more.
The downside of course is that say the confidence imbued by that person’s kind words leads you to make a move and then, weeks later, you shave because “Hey, why not? She already likes you so whatever now,” and then She’s all, “Aw, why’d you shave? I liked your beard,” and things crumble from there; a once promising spark struck cold and dark with a few strokes of the razor.
Oh, trimming is thoroughly good. There’s a point when you start to feel like the unkempt slacker that old lames in movies would’ve seen you as. This is not a good feeling.
You really start to side with said old lames.
The bags under your eyes seem a little more pronounced set against a wooly backdrop and the sweatpants and baggy V-neck you’ve been wearing for a week start to seem like maybe not the coolest look on earth. Even your flip-flops are beginning to wear out their once very welcome welcome.
So you stare yourself down. Ready for a clean break.
But then you remember the words of the old gawd Muhammed Ali, “Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” And you pick up that razor and put it right up against your cheek.
And you trim the edges, friend. You trim the edges from the cheekbones to the beard-line and then the neck-beard to all up under your jaw. A necessary sacrifice so that your greater, possibly perpetual mission might go on.
7. When you get a haircut tailored to emphasizing your beard.
Not to say that you should shave your head for the sake of the beard’s ego. It’s really tempting. And to be fair, not having tested it (my shaved head, much to the glee of my middle school, is shaped like a light bulb, so, you know, never again) I don’t know how rewarding or not it may be, but it just seems like too much risk for a badass, but seemingly unsustainable reward.
Regardless, making sure whoever’s cutting your hair styles your sideburns so as to flow right from beard to head is a sick move. There’s nothing quite like knowing exactly what you want at the barber and being able to say it with confidence.
8. The day it gets long enough to twist.
Subtitle: And every day for the rest of its life.
Twisting your beard probably looks disgusting. In fact, I know it does. But god is it satisfying or what? It’s like the hyperactive version of stroking it thoughtfully. It’s your new restless leg syndrome.
Just twist and twist and twist.
9. Something gets stuck in it.
This is the most bittersweet moment of all.
You’ve attained the proper ratio of length and comfort with your beard that you don’t even notice some smoothie on the mustache or some lint around the chin. That’s an achievement; you’ve woken up and chosen to grow your beard a little bit more every day. But it’s also a sign; a warning signal from the Universe that it no longer supports your efforts to have it all.
This is the beginning of the end.
Powering through is particularly difficult to justify at this point. Sometimes one of you literally outgrows the other. There’s no hidden emotional trunk to comb through in search of mutual salvation. No more red tape left to snip. All you know is that you’ll be forever changed by the experience and that puns are the highest form of humor.
10. The day you shave it all.
And then, in a few days, a week, a month, a year, you start the whole sublime saga over again.