On a whim, I’ve grown one of my infrequent beards, and it’s starting to itch. The beard hairs are hard and bristly, and the mustache feels like having the skeleton of a herring glued to my upper lip. Kissing and snuggling my loved ones isn’t at all as nice a usual, since the ‘stache makes contact with them long before I do.

Judging from the compliments I’ve received, though, a beard seems to be the way to go if you’re into ladies born in the 1940s. Another possible explanation for the data I have is that women of all ages love my beard, but that only ones of a certain age are daring enough to show their appreciation.


  1. #1 Dunc
    March 19, 2009

    The itchy phase doesn’t last too long in my experience. Personally, I wouldn’t be without a beard. I’m just trying to decide whether I’m keeping the winter beard or reverting to a summer beard…

  2. #2 Kevin
    March 19, 2009

    How funny Martin I have noticed the same thing as a new beard owner. I don’t know whether it is because women of my mother’s generation are generally more free with compliments, or are more appreciative of the signs of maturity in a man.

    What made you decide to grow one? I suppose like me you would say it was a whim. But I wonder sometimes whether those whims are driven by something more primitive, facial hair being our most prominent secondary sex characteristic, our equivalent of the peacock’s tail.

  3. Women born in the 1940’s came of age in the 1960’s when beards were very popular. Since I was born in 1947 I can tell you that seeing a man in a beard and mustache brings back memories of summers of peace and love. That, of course, was simply a lie because the 1960’s were about fear, social upheaval and violence. But the beard still brings back memories of wonderful young men of that era.

    What do you think of my theory?

    – Suzanne

  4. #4 Martin R
    March 19, 2009

    Dunc, I take it a summer beard is one you’ve trimmed down from the winter shag?

    Kev, maybe it’s the spring hormones.

    Suzanne, good theory, only the specific ladies who have complimented me are bourgeois ones who most likely weren’t into shaggy hippies back in the day.

  5. #5 koan0215
    March 19, 2009

    Keep the beard. Your wife will complain that it scratches her face. Grandmothers will try and seduce you. Children will hide their faces from you. Policemen will pay more attention to you than they will to the clean-shaven. Colleagues will start to wonder why you are too lazy to shave and how this will affect your work ethic at work. But you will look AWESOME ALL THE TIME because you have a beard. Other bearded men will respect you more. The ignorant will respect you as a genius. A certain type of female university student will hit on you, in competition with the grandmother. The taste of breakfast eaten at 0800 will be accessible at 1100! All this and more will be yours! I haven’t gone without a beard in years and it would be torture to shave now.

  6. #6 Martin R
    March 20, 2009

    Well spoken! Yeah! You ain’t a M.A.N. until your nose hairs join your pubes in one glorious pelt!

  7. #7 Wife
    March 20, 2009

    My gorgeous husband, I miss your lips… I’ll make sure you get rid of that beard when I get home.

  8. #8 Martin R
    March 20, 2009

    Oh sweetie, I guess that means that you weren’t born in the 1940s!

  9. #9 Dunc
    March 20, 2009

    Dunc, I take it a summer beard is one you’ve trimmed down from the winter shag?

    Yeah – the winter beard is fully Taliban-compliant. Saves wearing a scarf…

  10. #10 Martin R
    March 20, 2009

    You could keep a demon stoat in your beard, to serve as your evil genius, and whisper disturbing half-truths into your shocked ear at inopportune moments.

  11. #11 Dunc
    March 20, 2009

    You’re a strange, strange man…

  12. #12 Trin Tragula
    March 20, 2009

    The itchiness has to do with fibre stiffness vs. length. The problem will go away as the hairs get longer. Until then, spend more time in the steam room to keep them soft. Invite your wife to join you there.

  13. #13 Bob O'H
    March 21, 2009

    Another oft-missed advantage of a beard is that you can use it as a comb-over when you get older, and start loosing hair elsewhere.

  14. #14 eleanora.
    March 23, 2009

    My husband has occassionally grown a beard. It stops feeling so bristley as it gets longer. In the meantime you can improve matters by using hair conditioner in it.

    Does “langobard” mean long beard, or is it generic for any kind of beard?

  15. #15 Martin R
    March 23, 2009

    The name shows up first in the writings of Tacitus (1st century). As far as I know it does mean “long beards”, though there has also been speculation about a type of long axes used several centuries later.

  16. #16 Tim Abbott
    March 24, 2009

    I have a theory that men with facial hair compare their own with those of others in ways they would be loathe to do regarding other masculine attributes not usually displayed in public. I certainly notice what works, what doesn’t, and have experienced “beard envy” on several occasions when encountering some truly worthy whiskers. The other thing about facial hair is that it is something about myself I can change with reasonably simple effort – yesterday I downsized from a full salt-n-pepper winter beard to a summer van Dyke and above the lobe sideburns. I can regrow or revise a beard far more easily than I can drop 20 pounds.

  17. #17 Woger
    March 24, 2009

    Go Martin Go!

  18. #18 Martin R
    March 24, 2009

    I’m thinking of letting this beard go out with a bang: dyeing it with henna before shaving it off.

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