If facial hair could talk, what would it say? I believe I know the answer to what should have just been a rhetorical question. This is not a beard chart or just a list of facial hair types with silly names. No, this is what the beard says about the man (or woman) on whose face it resides.
I will use Wooly Willy as a model to provide visual representation to my arguments herein. These views are strictly the opinions of the author and in no way reflect the views of the bearded community as a whole. However, you can feel free to take these views and claim them as your own. I will not sue you.
Let’s start with the shortest beards first, then we’ll get into the standard types, and eventually we’ll work our way into the more intricate face garden types.
Clean shaven face, “I am either in sales, or I haven’t learned that I can grow a beard yet. There is no other excuse to leave my chin bare. I am a blank canvas that needs to be painted with fuzz. I am a patch of land just waiting to be cultivated into a follicle farm. I am kind of cold; can you pop your collar to block the breeze? Ah, that’s better.”
The 5 O’clock Shadow (at 5:00 pm), “I shaved either last night or this morning. I am not sure if I will make that terrible decision again tonight or tomorrow. I don’t want to, but I heard that 70% of women prefer clean shaven men. I care too much about what other people think.”
The 5 O’clock Shadow (all day, every day), “I trim my beard 3-4 times a week, but only down to stubble. I read an article in GQ or Esquire that said that this was fashionable. I also care too much about what other people think. However, I don’t much care for women.”
Full beard #1 (beyond stubble to 1” in length), “I am not afraid to be a man, but I may be afraid of razors. I have a job that allows some facial hair, but nothing out of control. If that were not the case, my beard would be a force the likes that have never been seen this side of the Mississippi.”
Full beard #2 (1” to 2” in length), “I could be any kind of person, but I am generally in a transitional period in my life. I could be taking a year off from school/work to ‘find myself’ or ‘write the great American novel.’ I could be just some dude who stopped caring about how the world views him, and decided to cultivate a wonderful face garden to show it. I probably won’t ever be clean shaven. That’s ludicrous!”
Full beard #3 (2” to 6” in length), “I am either homeless or in a rock band. Offer me a dollar. If I say “thanks” and put it in my pocket, then I am probably in a rock band. If I dance around and thank Jesus, then I am homeless (unless I’m in a Christian rock band, then your guess is as good as mine).”
Full beard #4 (6”+), “I am either a homeless person or a wizard. Either way, I will be chanting random things. Whether that is the booze talking or not, will not always be immediately evident. I would run away, just to be safe.”
Quasi full beard (without beard-moustache connectors), “According to my genealogy, I am not to be trusted. I want to be real man, but God has forsaken me. If my beard is red, then it is probably hiding freckles, therefore I have no soul. Point me to the nearest hallway, so that I can eat my lunch in solitude.”
Mutton Chops, “I generally exude awesomeness, and the people who have jobs that do not allow them to grow mutton chops are jealous of my existence. If I also a have a mustache connecting my chops (aka 'Friendly Mutton Chops') be careful, I could be a time-traveling salesman. Would you like to buy any mustache wax or hair tonic, sir?”
Slim side burns, “I have either never seen how stupid all the tools on Beverly Hills 90210 looked in he 90’s, or I still have a poster of Luke Perry in the room I rent from my parents in their basement. I pay my rent by mowing the lawn, and giving foot rubs to my Nana. Someone please kill me.”
Chin Strap (with or without a wispy moustache), “I think I have a real beard, but I actually just have a stupid line of hair along my jaw line. My beard is high maintenance, and low reward. Women hate my chin strap, and I hate myself.”
Fu Manchu, “If I am Asian, I can probably kill you in over 1,000 different ways. If I am Caucasian and over 40 years old, I can probably quote the lyrics of any Queen song. If I am under 40 years old, please put a mirror in front of my face so I can see how crazy I look. From that point, I can either embrace my lunacy or grow a different beard. Either way, thank you citizen!”
Goatee, “I apparently didn’t realize that beards come in men's sizes too. I am a Fisher Price beard; a starter kit on which to build. Please provide me with feedback as to how I can improve. I need direction, because I started to be beard, but then decided to be ½ a beard after getting so close. If I don’t listen to you at first, please feel free to raise your voice or physically shake some sense into me.”
Soul Patch, “If I am not Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bob Thornton, or Howie Mandel; then I am a pretentious douche bag. If I exist ironically or for some other type of political or creative purpose, tread lightly, there is a thin line between genius and douche. I would recommend discussing this with a licensed beard consultant before continuing on with this charade.”
Neck beard, “I am an enigma wrapped in a mystery, surrounded by a riddle. The fact that I exist has perplexed men and women alike. I am neither fashionable nor functional. I am basically a dust ruffle for your face; without accent pillows or matching drapes. I would rather just be side burns.”
Cop Stache, “If I am not a police officer, then I probably drive a Ford Crown Victoria or a Dodge Charger. If I am a police officer, then you are most likely not happy to see me. Feel free to compliment me on my moustache, but do not attempt to stroke it. Cop or not, you don’t stroke a man’s stache without an invite.”
Handlebar moustache, “I have either watched too many Spaghetti Westerns, or grew up in the 70’s as a big Rollie Fingers fan. I spend a lot of time making sure my ‘bars’ are trimmed neatly and waxed to perfection. Free moustache rides you say? Not on this work of art! If I did offer such a service, you couldn’t afford my rates.”
I am sure more than a few beard and moustache types were omitted from this exercise. I would be happy to read your addendums, corrections, and amendments as well. Please feel free to post them as comments or email them to me directly. Just please don’t take your facial hair decisions lightly. A good beard is a terrible thing to waste.