Growing up, my barber would say that every man who has a mustache or beard is trying to hide something. Later, I learned he spent some time in jail. He never had a mustache, so I never suspected. Nevertheless, his observation stuck with me. Hiding something sounded negative, so I remained clean shaven for the majority of my life.
Oh, and I couldn’t seem to grow anything that seemed full enough. It always fell short of my macho expectations.
Last year, I decided to take a walk on the wild side and don a Van Dyke. Typically a Van Dyke is a mustache with a clump of hair on the chin while the cheeks are clean shaven. It was fashionable 400 years ago, but I just found out about it. Truthfully, I’ve never been satisfied with the fullness of my facial hair. It seems there are bald patches like my face was horribly rug burned as a child.
Always a fan of history, I never noticed the number of beards. Most of our founding fathers were clean shaven, while the Lincoln era you weren’t somebody till you could beard up. Facial hair seems to have made a comeback in recent years. Perhaps it is a natural progression from the 1980s and big hair. Ever notice that many balding men sport facial hair? What affects the noggin doesn’t prohibit the chin, apparently.
The patch I currently own is fashionable. I keep it neatly trimmed. In the past, it has come across as unkempt. I think that’s because I let my head hair grow out. This time, I’m going with a very tight cut on top which cleans up the look considerably.
Since I’ve started my beard, I noticed that people look at me differently. Some have commented how they like it. Most don’t even mention it. My favorites are the ones who comment that they see it without mentioning that they like it or not.
“Hey, you’re growing a beard!” they say like I didn’t know. (silence). “Yes, I am,” I volley back expecting a follow up comment about how cool it looks or how macho it makes me. (silence, awkward staring, smiling).
Personally, I’m trying to shape my round face to be a bit more angular distracting the viewer from my eyes. I like the way it looks. It feels like the thing I need to do for right now.
My Barber was probably speaking about beards and mustaches in a philosophical way. Perhaps what people are hiding is their face or their feelings. Maybe they are trying to be scary looking or make a statement about who they envision themselves to be.
Or maybe they just hate to shave.