Tag Archives: beards

To Beard, or Not to Beard

15 Mar

Will you be my beard?

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.” — William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

A few months back, I contacted a very comely lass on OkCupid with whom I’d had a few flirtatious exchanges. We didn’t have a terrible lot in common but—and unfortunately—as a man, this didn’t stop me. In fact, my mind works in such strange and mysterious ways that it can twist what is an ostensible and fundamental mismatch into an exciting challenge. After a few exchanges, and due to her taking a week to respond to 2-line messages, I could tell the thing was going into pithy pen pal mode. So I requested a face-to-face. Her reaction to this was not quite what I expected:

“Sure, it would be fun to go out. But I must ask you, do you have a beard? Some of your pictures suggest that you do and others suggest you do not. Sorry to be blunt, but I’m not a fan of facial hair.”

Well, this was a new one. She was skipping the phase where we go out and pretend to like/tolerate everything about each other until a meaningful connection is formed and negotiating capital accrues. She was going straight into deal-breaker negotiations! I told her that I do currently sport a beard, but assured her it was well-trimmed, encouraging her to give facial hair a chance. She replied indicating that while it was a dealbreaker for romance, a beard would not stand in the way of friendship, to which she was also open.

Unsure of how to proceed, I dispatched a teasing message suggesting that her adamant stance might be more flexible upon a live encounter, and I was willing to take the chance. She, in turn, burned me by questioning whether my profile, which also indicated friendship among the menu options (just covering my bases, folks), was in fact accurate, and whether I even knew that it said that. SLAM! My ego was slightly hurt, and I was getting a little pissed, but that lizard brain was now firmly in control and wanted to meet this girl, if only to show her how cool I really was.

When the time came for our date, I wondered what the hell I was doing seriously considering trying to “convert” her into a scruff-lover. What to do?  How was I to respond to her all-of-nothing attitude? A quick and informal poll of my male (and some female, even) friends revealed that this was not a tough question at all: “Shave it,” was the most common answer to my predicament. At this, I bristled. Pardon? I should shave off my prized beard as a first-date investment? Maybe if we met, clicked, and fell in love, then I could grudgingly renounce and subsequently shear off my furry mask. But this was a FIRST DATE, for Pete’s sake!

So after taking immaculate care trimming my shaggy blanket into a well-manicured stubble, I went out into the night to meet her, on Christmas eve of all times (neither of us is Christian). She had already asked for 2 short extensions, which I granted, but when I got off the train I got another text asking for another 30-60 minutes. This should have been a major red flag but I had already schlepped into the City from Brooklyn, so this was happening. She texted to see if I wanted to do it another night and I tried to keep my reply from sounding too pissy. After about 20 digital pages on my iPad at the bar, and her getting lost (aka 1.5 hours later), she finally showed up. We had a nice time sipping fancy brews and chatting about our very different backgrounds (she’s from North Africa and I’m from Eastern Europe). At the end of the night, unsure of how to address the elephant in the room, I made a joke about her mulish beard ultimatum. It cracked a smile but not her firm position. With neither of us able to compromise our positions, we were deadlocked. We hugged, said goodnight, and went to our respective homes, her holding on to her pride and I to my beard.

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