We’ve all seen them; scraggly, half-attempts of facial hair covering the latest and greatest hipsters seen since last quarter, slaving away with his trendy horn rimmed glasses and devilishly styled hair. I smell the gel, the little dabs of cologne on their necklines (patchouli, or something I’ve never heard of), and my beard and I are offended. Tiny speckled mustaches seen quivering, unkempt, shivering against the cold, reminds me that some beards still need time to grow. Thick, frothy ‘staches on townies remind me that I’m not there just yet, but I’ve come a long way. All the kids with their terrible ‘staches, horrible jaw-lining Abraham Lincolns, and voodoo soul patches, all make me want to shake them and scream, “Why not go all the way?”
If you think that Athens is just another hippie community quoting famous writers, artists, and musicians, you may be right. However, if you think that Athens is just another reason to grow a beard and “fit in”, you are probably wrong. Brandishing a beard is in fact more work than imagined. A lot of care and time has be taken with your beard, like a small child learning to ride a bike; he starts with a tricycle, stumbling, falling down and crying, his father pointing and laughing along with the other kids who throw rocks and joke amongst themselves (eek, repressed memory). That is to say, harnessing a beard comes with the same territory; at first, it can be brutal, almost disrespectful in the art of wearing a beard, and it leaves many kids intimidated by the long, scragginess of man protruding from Zach Galifinakis look-alikes up and down Court Street. I remember my first attempts at a beard, and like puberty, I still have flashbacks of embarrassment and awkwardness as one does of pimples, voice cracks, and the horrible realization that you’re probably not as special as your mother once said.
Quoting puberty (yes, great intro to any paragraph), flaunting a beard is a growing process, and with each process there is a defined ending point. With beards though, the sky is the limit…literally. Just go to any computer and Google greatest beards or mustaches and you will find various websites and even contests that men have participated in. Some beards have been growing for months, others years. We’ve seen wizard beards, long beards, short beards, high beards, low beards, beards that quiver, beards that shout, beards that look up at you and say, “Yeah, you know what I’m all about”.
Nevertheless, what is most important about these ridiculous and often hilarious beards is unity; bearding is a brotherhood. How many times have I walked the streets of Athens only to be called out in manly fashion, “Hey, Nice Beard!” The answer is countless. I’ve been approached by several men who have only spoken to me because of my beard, and many women have simply, and awkwardly, rubbed my beard, giggling amongst themselves in recognition of a grown man. Having a Beard comes with great responsibility, and if you’re not up for the challenge of accepting high fives, hand hugs, or nestling you’re beard in some poor girl’s neckline, then maybe beard growing is not for you. I, for one, will continue doing all of these things.
So you’ve grown the beard, shampooed and conditioned it, combed it periodically throughout the day, and left plenty of time to play with your beard (because let’s be realistic, your beard is only as friendly as you are), and you think you’re ready to take on the word, right? Wrong. Not only does beard wearing come with great responsibility, it comes with fashionable clothing choices as well. Beards go best with flannel, obviously, but a good, strong beard, can fit into most anything. I like picturing myself in a Woody Allen jacket, bow tie, and glasses, brandishing a thick beard that is intimidating, but also welcoming. I also like to picture myself in the thinking man pose as a statue, naked, and with a giant beard, but that’s just my inner J.D. speaking. Some advice for you though, pleasant reader: wear what you want. I once wrote a poem on the importance of fashion: “Be careful of what you wear, for they will define you”. The clothing you wear is almost as important as the beard you furnish. If you’re wearing a beard and have on basketball jerseys, loose kicks, high-knee socks, and backwards hats of teams you don’t really care about, you’ll come off as a bro. If you wear flannel, tie-dye, import house boots, tattered jeans, and a loose disregard for the world, or your smell, you’ll be a hipster, or even a hippie. What is most important is to be you! Being myself is wearing ridiculous shirts of astronauts dancing, flannel, or a shirt of a giraffe drinking beer out of a hat strapped with two beers, that say’s “Let’s Party”. I don the occasional funky shades, and sometimes slip on some Chuck Taylors when I’m feeling fresh; that’s just me though.
This is just a Beginner’s Guide in brandishing a beard, so don’t fret if you haven’t grown one yet. It’s January, we’ve still got 3-4 months of winter, so take your time staving off the cold with a hearty, wholesome beard. I’m J.D. Adkins, and say hi to me next time you see me! Oh yeah, plenty of awkward, beard rubbing is welcomed too.