Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Beards. All the best paedophiles and serial murderers have them. Perhaps “best” is the wrong word, since it implies an air of moral authority that killings generally deprive you of. A better term, I suppose, would be “Most successful”. Obviously, I’m growing one, if only to show I don't pander to the whims of society and I am a maverick; doubtless enviable on many fronts except, it will quickly become apparent to strangers, for my ability to grow a beard.

You see, in keeping with my vaguely anachronistic life, my beard is faintly reminiscent of a late nineteenth century teenager desperately trying to emulate his father's illustrious beard, which, inevitably, wouldn't have looked out of place sitting on the face of Zeus himself. Sadly, my beard wouldn't look out of place in a news report about bodies found in a garden, but I persevere regardless with my wispy beard.

There’s good reason to persevere, though. After a certain point, you become ashamed to shave it off, as it’s almost an admission of beard failure. “I have shaved!” your clean, smooth face screams to the world at large. “I am unable to grow a beard. Pity me”. Those who saw your initial efforts will be forced to avert their gaze, and your distinct lack of beard will become an elephant in the room. Instead, I feel I have to endure it on the basis that “It’ll fill out!” and “It’s hard to see because it’s blonde”. I’m veritably a martyr to my beard now. It’s been 7 months. Months of hard beard-related work would be, literally, down the drain if I shaved.

So I haven’t shaved, and as such, I have a beard, of sorts. The whole thing is at best, patchy and asymmetric. At worst, it looks like a drunken child specially chosen for his inability to artistically create any sort of meaningful pattern has idly stapled clumps of hair to my face in the visual representation he thinks most represents chaos, only granting me the slightest of graces in ensuring I have sideburns on both sides.

And you know what? I'm glad. Because society has these weird little rules called social norms, which seem to restrict me in what I can and cannot do without appearing like an idle malingerer, or dangerously insane cretin. Fundamentally, these are good; I never think “Hey, I should go around naked!” but when society has this norm wrong, for example, when we eagerly adopt, say, a weird and obsessive addiction to celebrity culture, I cannot help but question it, much like how I started to question the association of facial hair with seedy 70s porn stars and paedophiles.

The social norm seems to be against beards, with people in positions of authority almost always being clean-shaven. In a sense, I’m taking back the beard from society’s norms, wrestling it away like the mischievous scamp I am, and giving it to the people. I am Prometheus, and the beard is my fire. Enjoy it mortals, for I am destined to be shamed at every shop visit for eternity. I’m doing this for you.

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