As far as growing beards goes, I was a late bloomer. At eighteen growing beards was still a recurrent feature in my list of prayer points. While some among my peers already had forested chins, all I could boast of was scanty shrub. But eventually, (praise the Lord!), I became fully bearded. By ‘bearded’ I don’t necessarily mean that I groom beards. I just mean that it is clearly evident that I am capable of keeping beards if I so wish to.
Beards have been, and in many cases continue to be, significant in virtually every field of human endeavor. As such, many of the greatest shapers of human life were/are bearded. Can you picture a beardless Karl Marx or Charles Darwin or Sigmund Freud? Can you even imagine a beardless Jesus Christ?
Don’t even begin to imagine what some men (adolescents and teenagers, mostly) do for beards. As an adolescent, I cannot deny to have done things too. When we got wind of a certain hair product called Hair Fertilizer which the seller swore could cause hair to sprout even on the head of a tortoise and vulture, we saved money and bought it. When Henry (A.K.A Hairy) whose mother sold ogogoro hinted us that he owed his hairiness to his habit of mixing the local gin with his body lotion, we raise the money and handed it to him to supply us some of the drink. We would wait for him at an uncompleted building down the road where he would show up with a shot of the gin which some of us would rub on our cheeks, chins and upper lips and on such other areas we wanted the hairs to grow. Needless to say, some of us took the liberty to also apply some of the local gin to the tongue. That was before someone (I can’t recall who, exactly) sold us the idea that methylated spirit had the power to pull out hair from skin pores the way midwives pull out babies from the womb.
Only a man can understand the humiliation that sometimes comes with being beardless or ‘un-beardable’, just as only a woman can understand the agony of still having a flat chest at age eighteen. The haves find that they have alternatives to choose from: they can either keep their beards or shave them off. The haves don’t miss any opportunity to flaunt it. They give their barbers elaborate instructions on how they like their beards to be carved. They claim it makes a lot of difference to have the barber devote another ten or so minutes to taking care of the facial hair after cutting the one on the head. The haves can hardly stay their hands from shooting up to stroke their beards even during religious practices, most times to the chagrin of the have-not.
Studies will readily prove that beardless men have a higher propensity of the most irritable. At the slightest provocation you hear them blurt, “Look at this boy of yesterday! Just because you have grown beards you now think we are mates, eh? Do you think I am a small boy?”
The beardless small-statured man, who is easily mistaken for a ‘small boy’, is the most miserable among men. He is derided by the bearded twenty-one year old. He is pushed about and even knocked on the head from behind and then apologized to after his old face shows he is an adult ‘man’. To minimize these mistakes, the beardless small-statured man adopts certain techniques. For instance he must dress in a way that distinguishes him from the teenager and then, he must almost always appear in public with his woman who is usually bosomy. Mind you, it is an indubitable fact that little men have a thing for large women, but that is a topic for another day.
Sometimes it can be hard not to think of bearded men as over-bearing. But you must understand that their attitude is beyond them. You must understand that this is psychology and biology at work.
And then, there is serious need to respect the beardless man (whether he is your man or a total stranger). Once again, I don’t mean the man that shaves his beard. I refer, of course, to the man that for whatever reason doesn’t have the capability to grow beards even if he wishes to. You need to make him know that you understand his agony. Always use ‘sir’ or ‘senior’ when addressing them. The smaller their stature, the more respect you must accord them.