sex appeal

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.