2012-03-08 / Sandy Days, Salty Nights

Hold the beard burn, please

I’ve noticed an alarming trend in men’s facial hair recently: there’s a lot more of it. The overgrowth started a few years ago when the Don Johnson look first made its comeback. Men were showing up with five o’clock shadows at nine in the morning, and they embraced a permanent state of scruff that made them look like they’d just come off a hard drunk. Their cheeks felt like sandpaper, but I have to admit: There was something sexy about the rugged unkemptness.

But this latest trend in men’s facial hair fashion goes too far. I’m talking about the growths men are sporting these days — the mustaches and beards that make them look like they just came out of the woods. And not from an overnight camping trip, but from a survivalist stint that ran three months too long. Their beards are untidy, sparse in places and overly thick in others, as if they’ve never encountered a pair of scissors. Or, God forbid, an electric trimmer.

I’m always sure those beards are hiding something — pieces of string, bits of scrambled egg, small dogs or young children.

I spent Saturday night at a bar downtown in a dimly lit space where the yt young crowd likes to congregate. It was the wt kind of place where the women wore $100 sweaters meant to look like they came from a second-hand at store and the men had on I’m-not-wearingthis ironically ironic berets.

This is how I know I’m getting older: when I look at the generation currently au courant and think, “God, they look awful.”

I surveyed the young women in their frumpy hipster clothes, their bright red lips and hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks, and I noticed one sitting in the corner just as she reached up to pull the face of the man next to her down for a kiss. He wore a plaid button-down and black square-framed glasses, the de facto uniform of male writers and graphic designers (men who work from coffee shops). He also sported a thick black beard.

I wanted to turn aside but couldn’t. I stared as the woman worked her fingers into the patchy hair on the man’s face. I thought of unwashed bodies, day-old grease and the way that guy in college smelled after he stopped shaving and started wearing his hair in dreads.

It was all I could do to look away before his beard ate her face.

Look, I know the problem lies with me and not with the men embracing this trend. Even Bradley Cooper rocked a bushy mustache and scruffy cheek stubble at the Oscars. If People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive decides to grow out his facial hair, the look can’t be all bad.

And from what I’ve seen in hipster hangouts, there’s definitely a contingent of ladies who dig the bearded and mustachioed man, women who can’t wait to get their hands — literally — on the thick knots covering a man’s face.

But as for me, I’ll have to demur. I like my men clean-shaven.

There’s something about kissing a man with facial hair that rubs me the wrong way — or maybe that’s just the beard burn. ¦

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