One of my Christmas wishes this year is the ability to grow a full beard.
One of my childhood issues was that people kept mistaking me for a girl. It’s something you can still see a hint of today if you give me a girly wig to wear. I eventually grew out of looking like a full-on girl, and more like a lesbian butch1. Facial hair, I had hoped, would eventually come to save the day and make me a real boy at last.
Unfortunately, my genetic makeup had other plans. Puberty kicked in late, with the first signs of leg hair showing up during my freshman year in college. My arms remained decidedly delicate, and my chest is as pristine as porcelain. Naturally, my dreams of looking like a disheveled hobo were dashed. Whenever I let my facial hair grow for weeks, I look less “Burt Reynolds” than I do “I got Dirty Sanchez’d”2.
Lauren likes to call me “hormonally androgynous”, which is a really nice way of saying “girly man”. I happen to think, however, that beards look manly beyond the hormonal implications a face full of hair has. There’s something much more primal behind looking like you can house a squirrel under your jaw. We need only look at what life was like for our ancient ancestors.
In a word, it was shit. It was shitty and it was short. Life expectancy isn’t all that high if your idea of shelter is “whatever big thing you can hide under”, and the height of medical science was blowing on a boo-boo. Our ancient ancestors were ridiculously risky assholes who discovered what food was safe to eat by putting every damn thing they came across into their mouths. Tell me that the first human to drink cow’s milk wasn’t half-insane for sucking on a cow’s udder.
Totally not poisonous3.
So people in the earliest days of humanity were probably dropping like flies, stuffing their faces with brightly-colored mushrooms and learning the many different kinds of rashes plants can give you. Odds are, a good chunk of them weren’t even making it past puberty. It only goes to follow that those who survived long enough to grow full beards were the sturdiest motherfuckers on the early end of the Paleolithic Era. Dirty, mangy facial hair, then, was the ultimate sign of badassery, the biggest middle finger to the face of mortality. It was what made our ancestors MEN.
Hair has very much been tied to the concept of masculinity. Aside from the fullness of the soup-mops that sprout on our faces, there’s also the matter of color. Like in silverback gorillas, white hair is a sign of dominance. The first people to ever grow it didn’t just live long enough to develop beards, they survived past the point where their bodies can produce hair pigment. It was a sign of experience, wisdom, and an incredible resistance to bacteria. White-haired cavemen were like a bad meme – they just wouldn’t die.
I HATE YOU SO MUCH4.
On the flipside, male pattern baldness is often brought about by an overabundance of testosterone5. Though normally counterintuitive to the concept of “more facial hair = more badass”, a shiny dome is representative of the fact that you are too fucking manly to need scalp protection. Your hormones are chugging beers and kicking the shit out of your hair follicles. You literally have way too much man-juice for your head to handle.
It’s no wonder, then, that we see balding men with a decent amount of facial hair as paragons of “Do NOT Fuck with Me”. People like…
Denton Van Zan from Reign of Fire
Holy shit. SANTA.
Based on the criteria we’ve established, Santa Claus is one of mankind’s greatest badasses, second only to Norrisaurus6. When you think of it this way, Christmas is the time of year when the Ultimate Alpha Male breaks into our homes, eats our food, and leaves shit he had slaves make for zero pay. Santa is fucking hardcore.
And so, given my Christmas wish and this stunning revelation, I feel it is only appropriate to leave you all with this greeting:
Happy holidays, y’all!
1. See “Aiza Seguerra”.
2. If you don’t know what a Dirty Sanchez is, and you value your faith in humanity, I urge you to NEVER look this up.
3. Amanita phalloides, AKA the Death Cap Mushroom.
4. I really fucking hate this meme. It is nowhere remotely funny, and deserves to be buried in a pit of shit.
6. The logical inevitability that Chuck Norris will one day become an even bigger badass by splicing himself with dinosaur DNA.