In the smash radio hit, “Your Love is My Drug”, Ke$ha proclaims (ever so eloquently) “I like your beard” to the lucky fellow who’s sleeping over in her basement.
I never understood this part of the song.
That is, not until a few weeks ago upon my arrival to campus. That is when I discovered, to my own surprise, that I am quite fond of facial hair on guys. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is a major milestone on the timeline of my own maturity.
Our first crushes tend to be the pretty boys: Justin Bieber, Zac Efron, Aaron Carter, Ricky Martin (the latter being my personal favorite as a thoroughly gaydar-less child). They appear accessible and unthreatening with their smooth-as-a-Gillette-Mach-5-commercial faces. If you went out with the Biebz for a night, it’d be to dinner and a movie. Screened privately in the Staples Center. There is no prospect of hanky-panky with these guys, but they might try to win your love through song and dance. You might feel woozy from their sheer man-beauty.
But sometimes, a girl needs something more. Something she can’t put her finger on. Something a bit more... fuzzy.
That’s where the bearded men come in. Jeff Sachs, a Communication junior, (heavily bearded and proud, since freshman year of high school) quotes “a man's ability to grow a beard is his ability to be a man.” Teenage boys, following this code, are notorious for trying to harness any and all facial hair-growing power, popping out a few whiskers in order to display their manliness. This always ends up in a sad mess of patchiness and disappointment.
No, I’m talking about men with beards. They can be stubbly, they can be a bit longer, just as long as there’s no Dumbledore/Gandalf/ZZ Top business going on.
I’ve realized that at Northwestern, unlike high school, most guys look like men. Beards just exude something more than guys without them — a certain strength, a dose of character, a sense that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Then, there’s this perpetual mystery of what goes on under the beard — and we all know that ladies go crazy over a little mystery. Men of mystery... oh yeah. I associate the idea of a man with dads and grandfathers, but technically, with everyone 18+, the terms “guy” and “man” can now be interwoven. Being in the presence of "guy-men" with beards every day has made me reconsider what is sexy. It’s life-changing, really.
Still, not all people are for full-on facial hair. As Weinberg senior Andrew K. puts it, “Beards on guys are fucking awful and gross and you should always draw the line at scruff. Beards on girls are cool and subversive”. Clearly, he is exaggerating, but I guess it’s different when you’re the one with the scratchy stuff on your own face.
SESP freshman Kristy Welch is in agreement with the scruff argument: “rugged scruff occasionally works, but only if the man himself is ruggedly handsome. anything else does not look good. Goatees are horrific. They have the word "goat" in them, which should tell you something.”
I myself have had a few encounters with Men of Scruff in my time here thus far... dancing with one at Rock The Beach, getting taught a step routine by one at Boomshaka auditions, getting shown where the tea aisle is at Whole Foods by one, macking it with one at Dayglow (which is another article altogether) and the list goes on. They literally show up everywhere, and always put a smile on my face.
Why exactly have I had this rapid change of heart about facial hair, I’m not sure. It’s been a slow progression, starting with a few key changes in taste. Circa eighth grade, I became enamored with the young, around-19 painting assistant in art camp. He had everything Ricky Martin didn’t: paleness, slightly-droopy puppy eyes (which I now can infer were from weed use) and a very light, post-pubescent beard. The next year, when Heroes first came on the air, I had this thing for Zachary Quinto’s villain, Sylar. The combo of evilness and stubble got me. Then, there was that one hot male creative writing teacher in my high school who, over the course of my senior year, decided to shave less and less, and thus, caught my attention more and more. One day in the future, I plan to ask him out to coffee. But anyway. Beards came and went pre-NU, but now, I’m certain that they’re hot. My certainty marks a definite change in myself — I am pretty indecisive, and my “type” has been all over the freaking world map and age chart. That is, til now.
See, this new fondness is a big deal — I’m getting older and wiser! I mean, if the ability to grow one is the mark of a full-grown man, then the ability to be attracted to one has to be the mark of a full-grown woman. College is all about transitioning to adulthood; it appears that I’m on my way there, thanks to all the bearded guy-men out there in Evanston. So to all of the guys who rock the scruff: if I had my own basement here, and I happened to throw a giant slumber party in said basement, you'd all be invited.