With marathon season underway, I face a cold road ahead of me. It’s a season of dark nights bleeding into the day — of barren trees, their leaves riddling the road like rubble. The cold is perceivable, revealing to its audience members their spectral breaths, their aches and pains felt from within their hollowed bones.
p. It is for this reason I have chosen to father a beard this season. It’s a matter of practicality, really. Beards are cheaper than most windbreakers, parkas or scarves. Beards are runner-friendly, preventing salt and snot from touching skin and dramatically reducing the reddening and chafing of the chin and cheek region during longer, colder runs. When worn in competitive running events, I count on my shaggy facial outfit to psych out my competition, suggesting long, lonesome months of training in the barren mountains of Colorado and, behind my beard, betraying an intrinsic insanity.
p. Off the trails, however, beards serve a higher purpose. A beard isn’t something for the rabble. You don’t just slap one on. Beards are for the greats, for the men among men. Beards are for the few and the proud — for the likes of gods. Here I think of Christ, of Shakespeare and of Chuck Norris. We, too, must emulate the gods.
p. Indeed, a holy month has descended upon us all. All around the world, working-class men, women and children are coming together in observance of the sacred rite of Octobeardfest. For one month, devout Octobeardfesters must abstain from shaving entirely, allowing their humble beards to flourish, their souls repenting the daily onslaught of stubble-slaughtering and facial mutilations of the six-blade.
p. Octobeardfest is a world phenomenon that bore its roots several hundred days ago in the city of Portland, Ore. Octobeardfest does not discriminate. It transcends class, race, age and gender. Currently, about 12 percent of the population is observing Octobeardfest. That’s a lot of fucking people.
p. Octobeardfest is more than a way of life for some. Boiled down, it’s a professional sport, a gentleman’s game. And, like all great sports, there are rules. Participants must have shaven themselves clean the night before the first of October. Each contestant is encouraged to keep a steady reading journal and/or picture blog, mapping out his stubble’s shadowy journey into beardhood. Haircuts of any sort are most gravely frowned upon, and result in automatic disqualification. Those who shave their beards midway suffer the promised midnight molestations of insomnia, temporary blindness and castration anxiety.
p. For more on Octobeardfest, visit octobeardfest.com, “official homepage for the Octobeard Festival, an annual toast to the madcap of the chinstrap and the hooby-doo of the fu manchu.”
If you’re interested in participating in this holy fest, fret not, for you don’t have to wait a year to let your face go, as No Shave November is just around the corner.
p. Sacraments aside, my advice is to stop shaving now and just run with it. College is the best time to nurse the six-month stubble, as you’re old enough to actually grow facial hair and not peach fuzz. Plus, you’re free to lose all respect of composure, unconstrained by those impending nine-to-fives. With a beard, one has the potential to age anywhere between two and 12 years, deflecting the impotent effects of male-pattern baldness. Before beginning this noble experiment of mine, I could not enter R-rated movies without being carded. With a beard, however, I have license to steal, to kill.
p. Beards work wonders in the classroom. With a beard, you have something to hold on to, something to rub and massage, giving impressions of deep, critical thinking. You can appear to be lost in the philosophical paradoxes presented in “Moby Dick,” rubbing your chin methodically when, in reality, you’re concentrating on the whale-tail in front of you.
p. But it doesn’t stop there. It never does. The next step would be to invest in a pipe, for effect. Beards and pipes work well as a pair. They’ll give you all the experience in the world. You’ll know what it’s like to father children, to own a pair, to be a man.
Sherif Abdelkarim is a junior at the College.