No Shave November from the Perspective of a Bearded Man


A real man grows a beard every month of the year. A scruffy chin is not to be taken lightly. (Kyle Morrison/The Observer)


A real man grows a beard every month of the year. A scruffy chin is not to be taken lightly. (Kyle Morrison/The Observer)

I’ll start off with a thought experiment.

Imagine you buy a beach house. You take the time to fix it up, and all that hard work is about to pay off when on the first day of summer, you wake up and walk down to the beach, only to find that it has been invaded by a mob of fat, pale, sock-wearing tourists. Imagine the anguish, the disorientation you’d feel as you struggle through the throng to find a place to lay out.

Now imagine the beach house is your virility and the tourists are a bunch of scruffy, kind-of-stoned college kids. Welcome to my life.

This isn’t some defense of those of us who have beards all year round: bearded men need no defending, and if they can’t defend themselves, well, then they don’t deserve the beard in the first place.

I’m not writing this because this needs to be said. We bearded men don’t need to say anything. Everything we’d ever need to say is already generally understood. Faced with the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln only had to budge for two minutes to give the Gettysburg address, and even then, that’s all he needed.

No, this article does not need to be written. But I ramble, as we bearded men are wont to do, as we have done over open fires since the dawn of mankind itself.

Now, to the matter of this month, this “No Shave November.” I do not know how it came about. Perhaps it’s an attempt at a somewhat (and by somewhat I mean not at all) clever pun on the first syllable of the word “November.” But I speculate.

I’ll tell you my experience.

I’ve tenderly cultivated this beard of mine. It’s a labor of love. Aside from death, a man’s beard is the only thing he can truly call his own.  It is the only thing besides his DNA that is unique to him and him alone. But now, our very masculinity has become a seasonal fad. This is an abomination of all things bearded.

I live in an all-bearded suite in McMahon Hall, and I become dismayed when, emerging from my fortress of manly solitude, I’m approached by some kid in a hemp hoodie with a face full of peach fuzz who says, “Man, sweet beard. No Shave November, right?”

I’m drowning in a sea of dudes, bros and dudebros, sporting dirt-staches, soul patches, neck beards and what, since the 20th century, have been accepted as side burns. This facial rapscallionry has to stop.

I’d like to ask those of you who think it’s OK to flirt with being a man for a month as an ironic gesture of laziness to think for a second. Please. Meditate on the countless generations of men who have come before you. The men who chopped their own wood, men who didn’t need “anesthesia,” men who would literally bite the bullet if they were in pain (pain in a figurative sense—we men don’t feel pain).

Now, ask yourself this question: What would the men of ole think of “No Shave November”? What would Captain Ahab think of it? How about Ernest Hemingway? Karl Marx, Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, John Muir? I dare—nay, defy—you to look Kimbo Slice in the eye and ask him, “Dude, No Shave November, right?”

Of course, these men probably wouldn’t respond at all. At the most, they might give you a look of distaste. These men have better things to do, like—oh, I don’t know—spear whales, write “The Old Man and the Sea,” duel their fraternity brothers, come up with evolution or invent the concept of a national park.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, itching those pitiful patches of hair on your face which—so you’ve convinced yourself—have come together to resemble what appears to be a beard, think of these men. Think of the hallowed ground which you are desecrating this month and ask yourself: What is the meaning of all of this?

I promise you, you won’t be able to answer these questions without coming to the realization that you’ve become nothing more than a shell of a man.

Respect the beard.