Beard? No Beard?


I am a man who is relatively quick to decide things, but often I change my mind as well. And like most people, I am never satisfied with how my face looks. Yes, I know, God made me a certain way, and the features that I have are consistent with the features that my father, my grandfather and various uncles have had before me. There’s really nothing I can do about that.

I am also bald. Them’s the breaks. When you’re bald, there’s not a lot you can do with your hair. I have at one time or another considered pretty much everything, including a fleeting, very brief, interlude with a wig. No thanks, just doesn’t work for me, other than on Halloween.

So there are only so many options available to me. One of them is my facial hair. Where some of my colleagues, such as my mentor Dr. Bob Mendenhall and my current department chair Mike Agee, have worn beards for years and years, I have a tendency to flirt with them each year for a few months, get tired of them, then shave them off. It’s kind of like dating a girl who looks promising, only to remember that you dated her before and you had only minimal success the first (and second, and third) time.

The bearded me, on the Amsterdam in Seattle harbor, June 4, 2016.
The bearded me, on the Amsterdam in Seattle harbor, June 4, 2016.

So when school let out in May, I decided it was time to grow my annual beard. We were headed to Alaska and so I wanted to look the part of someone visiting the Great North. Or at least that’s the excuse I gave my wife. She has become incredibly tolerant of my eccentric ways, and hardly even rolls her eyes anymore when I start one of my annual enterprises. She has expressed to me that she likes me best without a beard, or if that’s not possible, with a goatee. But she says that a beard makes me look older.

We got back from Alaska a couple of weeks ago, and went from high 50s to mid 90s with high humidity here in Texas. Suddenly the full beard wasn’t as attractive. In addition, my allergies started to kick up. So yesterday, in a impulse, I told my wife I was shaving off my beard. She smiled knowing and said, “Good.” This morning I followed through with it, but immediately after doing it, I had a moment of buyers regret. Which was the better me: with beard or without?

No beard, shaved this morning, trying very hard to smile, on my back deck.
No beard, shaved this morning, trying very hard to smile, on my back deck.

So I put it to you. Included are two photos of me. The bearded one is on the ship Amsterdam as we are about to leave on our Alaska cruise. The non-bearded one is a selfie I took of myself this morning. I had to retake the photo because I found it hard to smile. Take in consideration how happy the bearded one’s circumstances are, before you decide. But then I want you to vote. Which is better: with or without? Do I, as my wife says, look younger (whether I actually am or not) without a beard?

My fate (not to mention my facial hair) is in your hands.

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