Monday, April 10, 2006

Why did you grow a beard?

It's a valid question; depending on whom you ask, the responses can be extremely varied.

Nick, for example, would simply respond that it's because he doesn't shave three times a day (I believe he had to explain that to BYU ultimate frisbee officials on several occasions). Some will blame it on sloth, others on the need to investigate their own masculinity. Some actually think it looks good. I have my own reasons.

The first beard I grew was for a mediocre, student-written play at BYU called Faking Reality. Personally, I think we were faking quality, but I did have a good time with it. My character was a rebellious BYU drop-out, so of course he had to wear a beard. Incidentally, this role required me to carry around the much-fabled "beard card" (not actually a card, but a form letter from the Honor Code office).

One year later, in the spring of 2004, I was alone in Europe and decided the beard would return. I was hiking around by myself and I decided that the beard fit the Hiking Around Europe lifestyle.

Fast forward one more year and I again found myself in Europe. Again I grew the beard. I had come to associate an extended stay in Europe with the growing of facial hair. It just seemed to fit. I was walking around small countryside towns, riding trains, and eating lots of granola bars.

Now it is spring again, one year later. Jon may post a rant about this, but I feel like tradition mandates a temporary beard on my face. I've done it each spring for the last three years, so why stop now? I feel a little cool with the beard, especially because it's always a rarer chin-strap variety (the real reason for this is that my mustache doesn't connect well). It reaffirms my ability to grow it and allows me to try something different for a while.

Additionally, this year's They Might Be Giants tour is entitled "Why Did You Grow a Beard?" I'll be attending a somewhat intimate concert at a DC club downtown. I'm hoping that John or John will spot me and say, "Hey, why did you grow a beard?" to which I can respond, "Because I was hoping you'd ask."



JonnyF said...

A beard is a pretty harmless tradition. I have no problem with it. But, now that you've given me an opening. . .
There are two types of traditions I am generally against. 1) Wicked Traditions and 2) Stupid Traditions. Wicked Traditions are pretty self-explanatory. Stupid Traditions are best illustrated by examples such as these:
-Using candles instead of indoor lights on your Christmas Tree because it's "tradition".
-Growing a beard every spring because it's "tradition" even though your employer/school forbids it.
-Spending 16 hours the day before Thanksgiving looking for somewhere to buy the "traditional" Stagg brand Thanksgiving Chili, because Hormel just won't cut it.
-Making up a new first name that starts with X (followed by seemingly random letters) because you want to have a tradition where you name all you kids are named something that starts with an X, and you already used Xavier.
These may seems like silly examples, but they are only superficially different than actual things people I know have done for tradition's sake.
The main point of my rant about tradition (which is generally lost in all the confusion of the rant itself (which is one of the hallmarks of a really good rant)) is that tradition is not an excuse for stupidity or wickedness.

Nick said...

Jared, I must agree on your description of that play you were in. Your acting was great, but the playwright sure didn't give the cast much to work with. But when you were in The Importance of Being Earest, that was awesome. I always remember that performance whenever I eat my cucumber sandwiches.

JonnyF- Child naming schemes happen to be one of my biggest pet peeves, as you may know since I made it a point to rant about them to every roomate I ever had. Especially Mormon naming schemes. With one daughter named Lucy, even though I've always wanted a little girl named Emma, I will never let that happen since most Mormons would think "Oh, they're going for the early church history naming scheme. How cute!" Another bad trend with naming- not necessarily a scheme (unless it really is an evil scheme spawned by the Prince of Darkness himself) is the intentional mispelling of otherwise normal, healthy names- especially when it is with multiple children. Remember that family that was lost on a snowmobiling trip in Oregon? I felt very sorry for them until I learned what they named their two children: Sabastyan and Gabrayell. Thats just evil. EEEEEVIL!! (But Grandpa, you said that about all the presents. I just want attention)

Jenny said...

Oh no! I want a little girl named Emma ...

I'm still trying to decide how to respond to this post. If I talk about my own beard growing experiences, well, that could be embarrassing on several sides. And if I talk about my experiences with others growing beards, that could also prove to be potentially hazardous. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the "why did you grow a beard?" question is fraught with danger for most females (unless they are the bearded lady at the circus. But even then they might be sensitive to others asking about their beard during their off time, not working at the circus.)

The only thing I can really respond to regarding the beard question is to say that they do seem to work well with European adventures. And growing one is cheaper than a plane ticket to Europe.

JonnyF said...

I went with Jared to the Honor Code office when he went to get his beard card. I mostly went because I had never seen one before. I was expecting something much more impressive. In fact, I was hoping for an actual card with a picture of a bearded Brigham Young and the words, "Authorized Beard Wearer" in big black letters.
By the way, we watched "The Importance of Being Earnest" a couple of weeks ago and we thought of you, Jared.

Jared said...

Beard log, 12 April--I'm about a week and a half into the growing of this year's beard, and I suddenly remembered another reason why it's good for me to grow the annual whiskers: it reminds me why I hate wearing a beard. It's scratchy (even when I shave my neck), I look silly for the first two weeks, and, even after I shave it in to my nice, trim chin-strap, I feel all scuzzy-looking. Thus I grow a beard so that I will remember this and have absolutely no desire to for at least a year.

randy said...

Having just shaved off my facial hair this morning, I feel that I have something to contribute here, especially since the reason for my beard-growing has not even been touched on. I really hate facial hair, actually. It makes me itch. It makes me self-conscious. And I can never seem to get the sides even enough. A pesar de todo esto, sometimes I'll grow a goatee for one reason: to get in good with my wife! ;-) For some strange sadistic reason, she really likes them. I have yet to understand this, since in my personal opinion, I think that I look rather foolish with one. But hey, it gives me a little power to influence her with. So if she, for example, won't let me add two surround sound speakers and get a bigger subwoofer, I can just say, "you'd better watch it... I have a cordless shaver charged up just in the other room there." Anyway, I thought I'd add my reason for why I grow a beard [goatee, since she actually hates full beards on me].

erin said...

Jared, if I grow a beard can I go backpacking through Europe with you next time?

And speaking of names, I have actually spoken with the fellow that met the kids in England named Lemonjello and Orangello. I knew a kid growing up whose name was Peter D. Piper. And from a Sunday School teacher's point of view (at least one who has a hard time remembering anyone's name at all) having four sisters in a row with J names gives me precious little chance of ever getting one of them right.

Jenny said...

What's the story with the jello kids? That's a tantalizing tidbit ...

erin said...

Well, I had heard about these kids somewhere named (this is how it sounds) Orahnzhello and Lemahnzhello. Pretty fancy-pants-sounding names, but they're spelled Orange-jello and Lemon-jello...I believe. I had heard it a long time ago, coming, I believe, from the deep south. Then I recently read about it in a book, Freakinomics. And THEN I was having dinner with this guy who had served his mission in England and he happened to mention meeting these kids with weird names. Urban legend? Maybe, but now I'm a part of it. There must be more little packets of jello running around, though, to get all this publicity.