Hello. My name is Damon Young, and I have a big-ass beard. It’s not an obnoxiously big-ass beard. I’m not the bougie-nigga Rick Rubin. But it’s big enough that it has its own personality, likes and dislikes (for instance, my beard looooooves Broad City).
It is also fortunate enough to exist during a big-ass beard renaissance. There are beard parties, beard Facebook groups and beard meet-ups where niggas congregate to share tips on selfie angles and heat retention. Also, I’ve heard that it’s near impossible now for beardless dudes to find dates, to get anyone to trust them and even to get picked while playing pickup hoops.
But while things may seem all gravy for my bearded brethren and me, there are some parts about having a beard that might still be gravy, but it’s that Comfort Inn continental-breakfast sausage gravy. It’s the gravy where you’re not quite sure if it’s food, but you eat it anyway because you’re already at the Comfort Inn, so you might not make the best decisions.
I have a slight cold today, which involves some moderate sneezing. But when you have a big-ass beard, there’s no such thing as “moderate sneezing.” Because every sneeze is a potential extinction-level event. Because there’s always a chance that you maybe weren’t as thorough as you needed to be with the Kleenex, and now there’s a glob of snot hanging underneath your chin.
Did you know there’s such a thing as a “bad beard day”? Of course you didn’t know that because I didn’t know, either, until I grew a big-ass beard and started having random days where my beard just said, “Fuck it, we’re gonna be patchy today,” or “Fuck it, we’re gonna be lopsided today,” and there’s nothing you can do about it except just accept your Captain Hook-ass beard for that day.
My 2-year-old daughter has only known me with a big-ass beard, so if I cut it all off, she’d probably use some of the self-defense tactics we’ve been teaching her and spit in my face. Also, as an aggressively average-looking fellow, I’m just not ready to go back to my prebeard life. Yes, it’s a crutch, but it’s my crutch, dammit.
This is why keeping a random glob of snot hanging around isn’t always the worst idea.
Sweaters, which before the big-ass beard were sources of mirth, excitement and sex, now give me anxiety because of that time last winter I tried to put a sweater on and some threads latched on to my beard without me knowing and I screamed so loudly when attempting to place it over my head that my dog thought the sweater was attacking me—which it was!—and now barks at sweaters whenever he sees them.
D.S. Kinsel is a Pittsburgh-based artist, creative entrepreneur and cultural agitator whom I’ve known and been cool with for several years. Also, because he, too, has a big-ass beard, I get mistaken for him at least once a month. Granted, it’s only white people who do this, but it feels like for some people, if you have a beard, all they see is beard when they see you.
#IAmMoreThanMyBeard. #MyBeardDoesntDefineMe. #TheresAManBehindThisBeard.
Maybe it’s because Jesus has a beard, and we’ve all been socialized to listen to bearded niggas with sandals and flasks, but perhaps the most surprising byproduct of the big-ass beard is how people expect you to be the deep and insightful one during conversations and debates. It’s like the beard negates the possibility of you just being silly. Sometimes I just want to be silly. Maybe the beards makes you think I want to offer my thoughts on intersectionality, but sometimes I just want to talk about waffles.
I’m still shocked that some resourceful and entrepreneurial Morehouse grad hasn’t invented a motorized beard fan that maybe attaches to your shirt and fans your beard for you in the summer. And yes, I’d totally rock a shirt-attached motorized beard fan, and if someone reads this and invents it, I want royalties.
You’d think that growing a big-ass beard would negate the possibility of becoming envious of someone else’s, but the big-ass beard only exacerbates it. Now, instead of “That dude has a nice beard,” it can be, “FUCK THAT PERFECTLY UNPATCHED-FACE-ASS NIGGA! HIS BITCH ASS PROBABLY MARINATES HIS CHIN IN BIGEN. OL’ ROSE-BLOSSOM-ASS-FACE-ASS NIGGA.”