A beard isn't just what happens when you spend a week drinking and forget to shave. Beards can be important expressions of religious belief, social status, cultural affiliation, or the fact that the wearer is piss-drinkingly insane.
Abraham Lincoln. Jesus Christ. Santa Claus. Charles Manson. Most of ZZ Top.
What links these figures?
If you said they all come into my room at night while I'm sleeping then you're right, but they also all have beards.
They just stand there listening to me breathe.
From the onset of puberty and those first greasy chin hairs, every man and a few lucky women are faced with the temptation to try and grow a beard. In our shared cultural consciousness, beards represent not only a clumsy means of hiding acne scars, but the ultimate pinnacle of rugged masculinity. Ernest Hemmingway, Chuck Norris, Commander Riker, even God, somewhat inexplicably, has a beard.
The pinnacle of masculinity?
An accomplished beard isn't just an inexpensive alternative to having your face constantly warmed by a mask made of living kittens, it can be a thing of beauty. Generally speaking however, Growing a beard is always, always, always a bad idea. Unfortunately, some fool-hardy individuals, undeterred by the itching, the suspicion in the eyes of strangers, or the wise counsel provided by a friend in the form of laughing maniacly while jabbing them repeatedly in the face with a finger, will carry their fuzzy-faced designs to fruition.
If you find yourself wondering if a beard might be what's missing from your life, and have progressed to the stage where you're no longer satisfied with drawing one on with felt tip pen each morning, then there are plenty of sites on the internet that will lay out the pros and cons (eventual resemblance to a wizard, the aforementioned face-poking), tell you everything you need to know to grow a beard (stop shaving) and inform you that "Growing a beard requires a commitment. The experience can even be a test of character as well as a surprising process of self-discovery" (it doesn't and it wont be).