My beard and me

Nov 062006
Authors: Geoff Johnson

I am infatuated with this beard.

At a recent dinner that included a piece of sushi similar in flavor to seawater poured through an old running shoe that’s been jogged in all day with no socks, I kept bringing up my beard.

“My beard this! My beard that!” So forth, so forth.

I’m not sure how my dining companion felt about all that beard talk, but I can’t help it.

I constantly scratch the beard, but not because it’s itchy – but because scratching it feels good.

My friends seem to enjoy it, too. All the time I have people say to me, “Can I touch your beard?”

And I say, “But of course. Gently now – I’ve just conditioned.”

I started the beard because I started to realize that every time I shaved, I looked about nine years younger. And I’m so vain.

Once, my roommate said, “Hey, kid! Get out of here!”

And I threw out my razor. I decided not to cut the thing until Dec. 1.

The beard has come to mean a lot to me. I’m a part of a new community. The bearded are everywhere – especially in the philosophy, English and history departments. I’ll walk down the halls of the Eddy Building, look around and see people just like me – bearded people! My people.

Several times, I’ve been very close to just pointing at a fellow “beardie” while simultaneously pointing at mine and saying, “Beard! Nice.”

But to be entirely truthful, I don’t because my beard isn’t that great. I have some beard inadequacy issues. I fear that if I did try to identify with some of my bearded brothers, they would simply ostracize me, saying, “You call that a beard?! That part between your lower lip and your chin is white! Why?!”

So I remain on the fringes of the bearded community.

Fringes or no, my newfound community got me thinking, and I Googled “beards.” I found out that there are clubs and Web sites for beards. That’s not very surprising. But I’ll tell you what is surprising – even astounding. There is a tournament! For beards!

In the championships, both goatee/partial beard and full beard distinctions exist (as well as a separate category for moustaches). Within each distinction, there are four categories, including freestyle. Certain categories allow styling products; some do not.

You can see the U.S. beard and moustache team on their Web site at I can’t wait ’til this stuff is televised. Were I to beard like I mean it, and had better beard-growing capabilities, I would most definitely enter myself into the freestyle competition. Freestyle! Beard! Imagine the possibilities! I would probably sculpt my beard into a squirrel, as squirrels are among the most amiable of all creatures.

A sea urchin might be cool, too.

As I continued in my research, I found out that there is even a word for what I’m doing on my neck, cheeks, chin, jaw line and upper lip: Pogonotrophy. According to, the word’s Greek roots actually mean “beard” and “nourishment”.

And nourish this fine neck-mane, I do. I’ve taken to conditioning it (Suave – Juicy Green Apple scent); did I mention that before? I’m hoping that with time, this wiry steel wool tangle of strawberry blonde will become beautiful flowing locks worthy of a neck such as Fabio’s or Old Man Winter’s (except with Old Man Winter, I wouldn’t want the white just yet).

Someone could run fingers through it, no?

My beard has come to mean so much to me, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will cut it off come Dec. 1, and I will have to explain to my roommate, “Nick! It’s me! Just not with a beard.”

Geoff Johnson is a senior English major. His column appears every Tuesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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