I’ve grown some things in my time.
Three girls. A blog following. Up, kind of. I’ve grown a sometimes-unruly mop of hair, eyes on potatoes, and a ragtag soccer team or three. Growing, though, isn’t always a slam-dunk. I’ve grown restless, I’ve grown weary, I’ve also grown impatient now and again.
Maybe, if I had some sort of ointment, something magical, to make stuff grow better.
I’m talking about a beard, guys. A magic potion that will help me grow something rad, a face rug that extends ear to ear, a beard worthy of lumberjack status. At least of Kenny Loggins or Kenny Rogers but probably closer to Roger Rabbit.
When Lovely Beards asked I wanted to check out organic beard oil, I had to take a chance.
Beards and I have never been bros. When I stop shaving, people ask absurd questions, like, “do you have a place to sleep tonight?” or “need a ride to the shelter?” They’ve never vocalized it, but I see evidence that they’re sizing me up for mange or some such affliction.
It’s just a beard, right?
I just don’t grow a very lovely beard, that’s all.
I haven’t given it time, really. One of my girls used to paint her fingernails all the time, in such pretty, glittery paint. She took her time and did it right, as right as a little girl could. Then, she’d grow impatient. She’d wrestle or play LEGOs or Play-Doh and ruin the job.
That’s how I got with beards.
I’d panic. Not panic. That’s the wrong word. I’d punt on second down. That’s more accurate. I’d give up, and shave before my beard could even grow out enough to be itchy. And that’s the thing with beards, right? They’re itchy.
On the first morning of a recent trip to Myrtle Beach, I started on Ground Zero of my beard project.
The first day didn’t come with fanfare or robustness or anything close. I didn’t look like ZZ Top or Socrates or Ambrose Burnside. I just looked like a dude with metal shavings on his chin, silvery, non-descript shavings that looked more like lack of upkeep than a plan. Could something like shea butter beard balm help?
That’s the thing – I knew growing a beard wouldn’t change my life. Not really.
Why would I do it?
The idea became more than a test of beard products for me.
It helps that it made a difference, though. I alternated every day between a vanilla and sandalwood beard oil and a gingerbread beard balm. I smelled like Christmas and it made me feel handsome. Truth is, I was just still a 45-year-old dude with a starter beard.
Most of that, gray.
No one’s stopped me in the cookie aisle at Publix. No one has stopped traffic or even stopped watching CNN long enough to say something about the beard I’m growing. It’s just, there, and really, it’s there because I want it to be.
It’s soft, thanks to a couple of beard care products.
It’s soft and gray, and it hasn’t covered everything yet. It’s long enough to straggle. It’s long enough that I felt it sway in the breeze on a warm Carolina afternoon with the windows down. My beard felt … nourished? Is that the way I want to go with it? Yes. Nourished.
Like, it wasn’t a mistake.
Measures of growth
“You look like one of those old president guys,” Grace told me up close, as she inspected my beard mess. “Is that good?” I asked her, evoking images of a young Abe Lincoln or at least Charles Evans Hughes, the last bearded presidential candidate. (He lost in 1916).
“No!” she said, smiling. This beard, though, has shifted something.
Maybe it’s coincidence. Maybe it has more to do with me doing something I never have, to a greater extent than ever. Like when I actually ran a 5K, because of my daughter. I’m keeping a calendar these days, and although I’m not perfect at checking my blood …
I, dress better.
Like, ties and slacks. Like, less frequent days in fake glasses. Like folding and organizing clothes in my gym bag so that I don’t have to rummage as much. When you’re not rummaging, you’re doing other good things, even if that’s just walking with confidence.
To me, I’m doing what my father did and his father before him. Like Confucious and Leonardo Da Vinci, but also like Andrew Luck and also James Harden, which illustrates just how widely this thing can swing. But it’s all good.
And see, that’s growth, to me.
Note: I received free products to try from Lovely Beards in exchange for writing a review on my blog.