To Beard or Not to Beard. This isn’t a Question.

Beatrice – Lord, I could not endure a husband with a
beard on his face: I had rather lie in the woollen.


Leonato – You may light on a husband that hath no beard.


Beatrice – What should I do with him? dress him in my apparel
and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a
beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no
beard is less than a man: and he that is more than
a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a
man, I am not for him

My favorite Shakespearean exchange. Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing is explaining her singular state, which in reality has less to do with hair than her being still rather hung up on Benedick, the plays “hero” and is all woolen.

I have been partial to men with facial hair ever since I outgrew Tiger Beat magazine. I went from Shaun Cassidy to Barry Gibb faster than I could get from zero to sixty in my Dad’s 1972 Dodge Dart – and I was no slouch on the accelerator. Ask anyone who ever bummed a ride off me.

Or maybe don’t.

My late husband grew a thick wooly cover every fall and shaved it down to a goatee just before Valentine’s Day every year. His goat was thick and long enough that I could twirl the ends around my fingers.

His mother hated it and he took no end in delight about the fact that he could use me as his excuse for ignoring her incessant nagging to shave it off.

“Can’t shave, Ma,” he would tell her. “The wife loves it.”

The truth was more complicated. He had a round baby face and the whiskers made him look older. I imagine he would have kept it until it turned grey at least with or without my encouragement.

My husband Rob has lived the gamut of facial hair. Bare-faced through mustaches of varying thickness and length to goatees to full beards.

Working in a chemical plant means that at various times he was hair-lip only due to safety regulations, but when we met, he was back to a very close cropped beard. Quite the sexy, exotic Canadian.

This last week, however, he learned that the drilling rig he is overseeing has a strict “no beard” policy.

“I have bad news,” he told me over the phone and I braced myself for a transfer to Texas*, “I have to shave.”

“Oh,” I was relieved. Hair grows back but Texas could leave marks.

“It’s just until the well is dug,” he assured me.

Although there is a mound of photographic evidence attesting to the fact that Rob is handsome regardless, seeing him without a beard in the flesh for the first time was like coming home to find your furniture just slightly askew in every room. It’s right yet not at all the same.

Fortunately the whole Samson effect is just biblical mythology because Rob’s sex appeal didn’t disappear down the bathroom drain with his face fur, and though he does look younger and it’s slightly erotic to snuggle up to a man who is your husband but looks like someone you don’t quite know, I will be glad to run my fingers over his grizzle again.

5 responses to “To Beard or Not to Beard. This isn’t a Question.

  1. I’ve had at least a goatee since I graduated high school. At this point I’m slightly afraid of my potential double chin. At the moment I’m rocking the beard, & yes the wife’s okay with it.
    I’ve talked with other people about how villains always have mustaches, and how most of the recent presidents have gone without where they used to all have them.
    Dang cultural shift away from awesome facial hair…

  2. I love my bearded English husband. It was his beard in a profile photograph that made me take a look at the words he’d written on the UK dating site where we found each other. Initial attraction is a funny thing. Now well into our second year of marriage, I am attracted to him on many deeper levels but that beard of his just does something to me.

    At the risk of offending my Texas readers who may see this and having lived in Texas myself, I’m glad for you that it is only the beard you have to change … at least for now.

  3. my ex-husband had a full beard — Grizzly Adams style — for many years. upon a random signal from the testosterone planet, he shaved it one day, for no discernable reason. i don’t know what was funnier – the kids (‘tween-agers’) staring at him and laughing because he looked so very different, or the dog barking at him for nearly 30 minutes when he entered the room…

    • Dee announced that Rob didn’t look like her real dad anymore. She had a similar reaction when her late father shaved his full beard that first Valentines to a goatee. She was about six and a half months old and refused to have anything to do with him for several days.

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