Can you get a bird in the hand if you are too far in the bush?

A male acquaintance recently joked that the current fashion for an enormous foliage of facial hair is rendering beards the status of appliances, as opposed to light chin coverage.

Ever other guy over 18 seems to be trying out a facial garden. And we aren’t talking a neatly trimmed lawn or ‘goatee’ here, but a shaggy ‘shipwrecked for a month’ look. A cross between this and a Victorian gentleman akin to Charles Dickens or Bram Stoker, if it wasn’t for the obligatory tattoo sleeve, sockless footwear and earlobe-disfiguring jewellery/bath plugs.

Now, I am all for people expressing their individuality/creativity through their appearance (says the woman who once teamed a long orange cardigan with pink tutu-style skirt in a fit of youthful madness). But this isn’t it, seeing as this style choice is afflicting around 25 per cent of the western male population.

I have yet to meet a woman who is in a relationship with such a species (probably due to the fact that most of my female friends are over 35). If I did I would be tempted to ask some intimate questions, e.g.:

  • How is the kissing process?
  • Does his beard get tangled up with your downstairs beard?
  • Do you spend long evenings picking out from his beard bits of spaghetti/steak/rice/biscuit crumbs?

The second of these questions reminds me of an ex’s comment on a couple on our course at uni. She had auburn hair, his was brown, then he decided to try growing a beard. The beard came out ginger. My then beau whispered in my ear: “You do realise that his beard was brown before they got together…?”

The other downside to this over-cultivation of facial follicles is that it ages a man by ten or 20 years – someone who shaves a beard off often looks baby-fresh, years younger. I suspect the younger chaps often adopt a beard to assume a more mature façade.

And let’s remember that there are some men who look better with a carpeted chin – take Russell Crowe, for example. In my view there are ‘either/or’ people too, such as the genetically-blessed Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp – I would share a tub of posh ice cream with either of them, bearded or nude-faced (them, not me).

Now, don’t get me wrong, readers, I am not against beards per se. A manicured bit of bristle is fine – and I don’t mean ‘designer stubble’ (too George Michael circa 1986) or ‘soul patches’ or the pencil-thin facial hair stripes favoured by some Mediterranean men.

Light, neatly trimmed beards are even quite sexy on the right man; take my 8 or 9 out of ten who featured in last week’s post. It was in no way an untamed bush (behave!) but a perfect frame for his beautiful features – highlighting his lovely mouth and sparkling eyes. The difference in such coverage is that its owners take time to nurture, trim and maintain, in a similar way to some of us care for our ‘downstairs beards’. Although I do hear on the grapevine that, in this bodily region, the bush is back!