As I sit here, stroking nearly two months of facial growth it's starting to dawn on me just how different my life is now. For a start I have something to stroke while I'm thinking, this must be why people buy cats.
Growing one is not all fun and games; you have to survive the itchy times before your face gets used to its new coat. The 'tache' novice will also discover they have a new 'storage area' for any stray beer or soup. The initial non-shaving, laziness factor is great but once grown, a proper beard requires trimming twisting, taming and, if you're anything like me, conditioning (softened for the ladies).
Beards, as we all know, were invented in the 1950s as a way for Americans to identify Communists. To be fair to our American cousins, both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels sported some of history's most magnificent facial weaves.
In today's modern society, facial hair is celebrated in a multitude of ways. The Movember movement started in Melbourne 2003 in a bid to simultaneously raise awareness for prostate cancer and bring back the 'mo'. The British Beard Club started in 2009 with a view of grooming (literally) future contestants for the World Beard and Mustache Championships (that's an actual thing!).
My personal favourite is the Adelaide based comedy folk group The Beards who have released three albums to date, each of their songs celebrating everything great and good about facial hair. In fact, stop reading this now and search for If Your Dad Doesn't Have A Beard, You've Got Two Mums ... go on, I'll wait...
Funny right? And pretty catchy too.
On the flip side, I'm acutely aware of a near constant paranoia that underneath my cheek thicket, the last vestiges of my youth are being drained away at an accelerated rate and when I eventually shave I won't recognise the old man staring back at me in the mirror. I'm also worried about beard tan.
Beards are not just a fashion statement. By growing new lines on your face, you are also drawing new social lines in the sand (see what I did there?). I'm finding I get much more respect from my fellow man, people seem to take my opinions more seriously and I don't feel I have to fight so much to be heard anymore. That said hardly any women under 25 think beards are sexy... so there's that.
Over all I believe if have the means; you should grow a full beard at least once in your life, if only to see what it looks like. They can be used to frame your face, cover scars, accentuate facial features. Also it will give you something to do when you're plotting an evil scheme.