As a Baby Boomer, I was a child during the clean-cut Mad Men years and came of age during the era of long hair, sideburns and beards. Like many male boomers, I went through a long-haired phase in college.
Years later, when male pattern baldness caused my hair to become an endangered species, I decided to shave my head and flaunt my baldness. You know that saying about making lemonade when life gives you lemons? Well, my head looks like a giant lemon, and I’m proud of it.
But throughout my entire life—during clean cut years, long hair and cue ball baldness—I have never grown any facial hair. Until now.
I’ve never thought of myself as a beard kind of guy. I am not blessed with enough facial hair to grow a proper beard, so I gave up the thought many years ago.
Last month, my wife said she would like to see me with a bit of facial hair. I laughed—but she wasn’t kidding. “Let your beard grow,” she said. “I love the look of facial hair.” So I stuck my toe in the bearded waters and put my razor away.
In a few days, my face looked dirty. I saw myself in the mirror, and I looked like a guy who had just returned from a camping trip. I thought I looked awful. But my wife was intrigued. “I like it,” she said, rubbing her hand across my face.
So I kept the facial hair, even though it itched. I kept it trimmed, the way she likes it. And I officially became a man with deliberate facial hair. You can call me Mr. Beard.
Because this was a completely new look for me, I thought that everyone would comment on my new beard. Not so. Most of my male friends and acquaintances who have seen my new facial hair haven’t said a word. The exceptions were the 29-year-old son of a friend who told me I looked great and a friend who said my half-grown-in moustache and goatee gave me a more “modern” look. (Any comment about looking more modern is a nice compliment for a Baby Boomer.)
Also by Chad Stone: Are Men Obsolete?
By far, I have gotten the most response from women about my new look. “You look like George Clooney,” said my friend, Fran, when she saw my fuzzy face. She was one of the very first people to comment, so I asked her if she really liked it. “Oh yes!” she said. “It looks great on you.”
When my wife and I went over to another couple’s house, Katy said she liked my beard and Jim didn’t say a word. A few days later, my wife and I went to a party at the home of a dear friend. There were lots of people I knew, but none of the men said anything about my new look. The only woman who seemed to notice my new facial hair at all was the hostess, who brushed my chin with her fingertips and told me she’s a BIG FAN OF BEARDS.
I began to wonder if the reason I wasn’t getting much response was because my scraggly beard just looked bad. Maybe I just didn’t have enough whiskers to pull off this new look—even in a world where a half-grown-in beard is trendy and fashionable.
The women I asked all said my beard was quite manly and attractive. It turns out that women—especially Baby Boomer women—really do dig beards.
And the men? Well, men don’t usually comment about how other men look. It makes them uncomfortable. They also didn’t want to say anything about my new beard in case it wasn’t really new. If I had grown a beard a long time ago, that would make them seem unobservant and clueless. (You know, like MEN.)
So will I keep the beard and fully embrace my new fuzzy look? There’s really only one person whose opinion matters on this topic. She’s the person I sleep with every night. As long as she keeps rolling over in bed to greet me with the words, “Good morning, sexy,” you can bet that my face will stay fuzzy.
Chad Stone is the author of the critically acclaimed The Love Magnet Rules," which contains 101 tips for meeting, dating and keeping a new love. He shares his own personal brand of dating and relationship advice on his website at www.chadstone.us. In addition to writing and speaking on love, dating, and relationships, Chad Stone owns a successful marketing and public relations business. He lives with his wife in Santa Fe, New Mexico.