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Beards can hide a multitude of sins

December 29, 2017 GMT

I recently had vision-correction surgery.This allowed me to see myself more clearly in the mirror. This, in turn, prompted me to immediately begin growing a beard. To say I was shocked to discover that the face staring back at me was no longer 30-something would be an understatement. Say what you will about drugstore glasses, but they do have their advantages.Here’s the thing: As you grow older you don’t generally look as good, but it doesn’t bother you that much because your eyesight is declining at the same time. When your eyesight is restored to its youthful clarity, however, you are able to see the extent to which time is not on your side.If you are a woman, there are all sorts of things you can do to fight back, including having some work done. If you are a man, there is an easier and less expensive alternative: You can just let the hair on your face grow. A beard doesn’t cover up everything, of course, but it can go a long way toward addressing two major concerns: The first is the neck. The only explanation I can come up with for the condition of the skin on my neck is that there is chicken in my DNA. The second is the wattle. This flap of loose skin under the jaw is not only unsightly, but can also be dangerous. A wattle caught in a stiff crosswind can slap a person into unconsciousness.Anyway.Once you have decided to go the beard route, there is the matter of style. Although stubble is in vogue and provides the necessary cover, this is not the best choice for men of a certain age. Stubble may, or may not, look good on younger men, and may, or may not, project the sought-after five o’clock shadow of masculinity.On the salt-and-pepper set, however, a five- or 10-day growth does not suggest virility. Rather, it suggests being down on your luck. Seriously, you stand on a street corner holding a coffee while sporting a growth of whitish stubble and in no time passers-by will be dropping spare change into your cup.Once you have decided to go beyond the stubble phase and embrace the full beard, there is the matter of shape to be addressed. Some of the more popular variations include the Van Dyke, the Imperial, mutton chops, chin strap, goatee, anchor, Balbo and duck tail.One may also take trimmer and razor in hand and create an individual design. In some cases, this can result in a distinctive, attractive, hirsute homage to suaveness, urbanity and panache. In all too many cases, unfortunately, the sculpting ends up looking like the bearer was groomed with a weed whacker.Regardless of style, two last things to remember. One, never select a beard style worn by a Major League baseball player. Major League baseball players, particularly pitchers, have the worst facial hair in all of sports, if not mankind. And, two, be careful to not let your beard get away from you, as we have seen in the case of David Letterman. Although I am not privy to his plans, I should point out that the former late-night host is sporting the type of overgrowth favored by those who end up writing angry manifestos from small cabins in the woods.I just hope I’m not headed down that road.Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at jimboshea@gmail.com and on Twitter @jimboshea.