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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Column: Beards. Who needs ’em?

The world is safe again. Larry has gotten rid of his beard. It happens about once a year. I get this ridiculous idea of growing a beard only to have it trumped by my poor genes. This year, it started about a month into winter quarter. I’d neglected shaving for about three days due to a project and a midterm. Looking in the mirror that morning, I ran my hand across my face and it felt amazing.

I had tried growing legitimate facial hair twice in the past and found only failure. I shrugged it off and figured it was something that I wasn’t yet old enough for. I even tried using a product similar to Rogaine on my face and stopped just a few days later after some internet browsing revealed that many people reported growing hair in other undesirable areas, such as their backs. Last time I checked, back hair is not cool.

But now I was 20 and full of vigor. Imagining myself with a full beard in just a few short weeks I thought to myself, “Maybe this scraggly peach fuzz will grow into a garden of rugged manliness.”

And why wouldn’t I want one? I had seen beards on campus – everything from the awesome braided Viking beard to the clever soul patch – and they all effectively had me wishing for a beard of any type. You see, having a full-bodied beard or goatee represents an entirely new level of manliness, and it’s just plain cool.

It doesn’t hurt that women love it too. It’s true. A study conducted by Northumbria University on women aged 18 to 44 found that faces with facial hair were rated as more masculine, aggressive, socially mature and more desirable as a long-term partner than their clean shaven counterparts. I was completely sold on the idea and thus embarked on my beard-growing adventure!

Of course, the full-bodied beard I had envisioned never came to fruition. Instead, I found myself getting weird looks from every which way. Homeless Larry had rolled into campus. The end result of what felt like a lifetime (really just a month), was a thin, wiry goatee, the saddest mustache ever and glorified peach fuzz on my lower cheeks.

“Larry, is there something wrong?” my mother asked one weekend. She thought I was in the midst of some terrible, emotional struggle. I explained my quest to become a desirable male and all she could do was laugh and belittle my effort as she plucked my eyebrows. Yes, it was that bad. Far from being the burly, cool caveman I wanted to be, I was that weird guy with no hygiene.

Deluded, I would constantly tell myself that maybe I was just another couple of weeks from getting that picturesque beard. I started asking for feedback from my friends (previously, I told them not to judge the work-in-progress) and the general consensus was: it looked terrible and I should get rid of it. Being realistic, I took their feedback to heart and made headway for the bathroom. Staring long and hard into the mirror, I wept inside as I was about to destroy a month’s worth of work. It took only a handful of strokes to shave my facial hair, and that is a testament to how poor my beard was.

I think I can only blame my genes for all of this. Never will I become that unique butterfly: an Asian man with a dense beard. There are plenty of Asians with beards you say. Just look at Confucius! No, they are actually few and far between and I am willing to bet it took Confucius a couple of decades to grow out that impressive triumph of a beard.

I don’t believe I will attempt growing another beard anytime soon, but I did leave behind this “soul patch” as its presence bothers no one and it may one day sprout into a real soul patch. I’m a-okay if it never does. It may never happen, but one can dream can’t he?

LARRY HINH thinks he never loses. Not really. If you think otherwise, tell him at lthinh@ucdavis.edu.

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