Archives for category: Beards

Bill once more. After much thought, I decided to try out muttonchops. This required a couple weeks of foundation building, as I started with hair in my chin, but not on my cheeks. Right before Christmas I stopped shaving. It took about two weeks to grow a full-ish beard, like so:

Bill 1 Bill 2

I didn’t get a lot of feedback about my new side-whiskers—except from my ten-year-old niece, who categorically hates all facial hair and who promised me unspecified (but nevertheless disconcerting) “sweet, sweet revenge” unless I shaved.

On Friday, I broke out the clippers and exposed my chin to the light of day for the first time in ten years:

Bill 3Bill 4

Reactions were decidedly mixed. Co-workers seemed to go along with it. One colleague said I looked “crankier.” Another exclaimed, “you look just like Lincoln.” Some felt I resembled a sea captain, so smart-alecky friends started referring to me as “Admiral Bill.”

In all, co-workers treated my whiskers as good fun and a merry jest. And then I went home to face my wife and daughter.

Epic fail.

My wife’s first six words when I walked in the door were not, “hello honey, how was your day,” but “umm . . . no. Grow the beard back.” My daughter reacted with stunned silence.

So it’s back to square one. On Saturday, I shaved back down to a clean face. Of course, I stopped to take pictures at a couple of transition points:

Bill 5Bill 6

Bottom line here—moustaches just aren’t for me.

And now I’m back to this:

Bill 7

That’s not so bad, really. My mom loves it anyway. She gave me a big hug and told me how handsome I looked. She hasn’t done that in a long time. I’ve been told that I look younger.

My niece is less forgiving; she informed me that I still get no reprieve from her “sweet, sweet revenge.” Jeesh. . .

Also, I miss my beard and I’m already starting to grow it back. My chin is cold all the time.

Bill again. Occasionally, my previous calling as an old-timey interpreter provided an incentive to beard up. Here are some samples from the 1990s:

Bill vintage1 Bill vintage2

Mostly, my facial hair served to distract from the ridiculous Old Timey costumes I was wearing. And compared to real old-timey guys, my bristles were pretty tame. Here’s one example:


Did this guy really go into battle with that ‘stache?

I grew my current beard back in 2004 because I kept getting cast as an extra in Old West re-enactments for the History Channel. On one about the OK Corral, I was supposed to play Sheriff Johnny Behan, who looked like this:

Sheriff Johnny Behan

But I actually looked like this:

Bill sheriff

The other re-enactors laughed me out of Tombstone until I sprouted some facial hair.

Bill again. How to choose? Most facial hair arrangements are pretty standard:

Bill facial hair types

As a historian, I feel obligated to consider famous historical facial hair:

Ambrose Burnside

Ambrose Burnside: The original “sideburns” are a stereotype for over-the-top facial hair. He was a disaster of a general, but I’m still thinking of trying this one out.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali: Only an artist who drew melting timepieces could get away with this.

Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck: Uber-macho 80s ‘stache. My wife thinks he’s hot.

John Brown

John Brown: Patriarchal!

Usama bin Laden

Usama bin Laden: Ummm . . . no. Associations aside, it’s too much like steel wool.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx: Jeesh, you could lose a hoagie in there . . .

George Custer

George Custer—nice tight composition (and interesting ringlets). Old timey men were allowed to wear pretty girly hairstyles by our standards. I’ll try not to think about what happened to him.

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp: Gunfighter chic

Rollie Fingers

Rollie Fingers: Trippy!

ZZ Top

ZZ Top: Oh yeah!

I came across a blog that covers more . . . interesting . . . facial hair options ( There’s some good stuff there:

face hair1 face hair2 face hair3 face hair4

I wish I could grow facial arabesques like this guy:

face hair arabesques

But that’s just not in the cards.

Bill again. “Growing” a beard sounds like it takes real effort. Actually, the opposite is true. The real challenge is to keep hair off your face.

I’m limited by the fact that I don’t grow a very attractive beard. It’s bristly and coarse, kind of a cross between a hedgehog and a brillo pad. When it gets longer, it curls out in wings on either side like the sideburns of a deranged munchkin. So most of my life, I’ve kept it pretty clean.

But like most guys, I’ve experimented. When I was in college, I fooled around with different styles of facial hair. My girlfriend (now my wife) documented it all. I seem to recall she did it with great hilarity:

Bill college1 Bill college2 Bill college3 Bill college4

This is Beth. When my boss shaved his head last year a coworker taped a picture of the guy from Breaking Bad on his door. I don’t watch the show but have heard that the character donned a similar look when he became a meth dealer. Doubt that’s what was going on with my boss. He did say that it helped him win at poker (“It intimidated the crap out of them”). His wife liked the do – or lack of do, his daughter not so much (“Every night before going to sleep she asked, ‘Daddy, why’d you shave your head?'”).

Bill no hair

Now he’s growing a beard in anticipation of exploring patterns in facial hair.

Bill beard

Look for guest posts all week!

P.S. Happy Birthday Bill. And congratulations on your honorable mention as a Denver Post Top Thinker of 2012 – Liz and I are honored to have your top-thinking-about-male-related-hair-topics here (definitely an “other” category).

%d bloggers like this: