Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

My personal beard history

People always ask me, β€œHow long did it take you to grow that beard?”.

And it’s kind of a complicated question since I don’t shave. I’ll trim it down a couple of times a year (or less), but that’s it. The picture above represents about 6 months since the last time I trimmed.

I started shaving when I was about 13. I started experimenting with a goatee when I was 14 and gave up shaving entirely not long after. My primary motivation for having a beard is laziness (although I do like how it looks).

I’ve shaved completely twice in the past 23 years.

The first time was in 1997. It was summer of Junior year at Lewis & Clark and I was teaching pre-school swimming lessons. There were some kids who were scared of me and I thought shaving might help. Really, all it did was upset Jane (and me!) and I grew it back as fast as I could. Growing confidence as an instructor took care of the rest.

The second time was in 2010. We had a lice outbreak that took over our entire household. Rather than spending hours picking through my head, I just shaved it and my face. I only found out later that head lice don’t live in beards.

Shaving the second time was surreal. It was the first time my kids had seen me clean-shaven. The world felt strange. Having air or the cloth of my pillow on my face was bizarre. And no one recognized me at work. My boss walked right past me in the hallway.

That time too, I grew it back right away. It took about 3 weeks to get to a good base.

I think it grows even faster now. As I get older, it grows faster and moves further up my face. I’ll look like Cousin It before long.

People always ask if I’ll shave when I get older and I don’t think I will.

Right now, I like the idea of having a giant white beard. We’ll see.