Heed my story. A story of a once vibrant past, a bleak present, and a hope for the future.
Once I was a fresh, baby-faced young lad, with nary a care in the world. I had a nice apartment that I shared with my beautiful girlfriend, I had a great job, and I was going to be happy for the rest of my life. It was a good time for just about everyone in the whole country, as a matter of fact, and for people all over the world. Our cares seemed so far away. Looking back now it’s easy to see it as the calm before the storm. This was ten years ago. This was before the Beards came.
It started to happen here and there, to people you knew. Suddenly your cousin showed up to Easter dinner with a Beard, or one of your co-workers came back from a long weekend with one. Then, soon, they were popping up on the face of nearly every man you’d see. The Beards’ takeover was as meticulously planned and expertly cultivated as the thickets upon the chins of the growing multitudes were not.
I was one of those early casualties. My story, at least its beginning, is like most others’. Leaving a friend’s place one Friday evening after some pleasant after-work drinks, I was approached from a dimly lit alleyway by a mysterious yet authoritative figure. A description of him would have been next to impossible, except to say he seemed to consist only of a long coat, a wide-brimmed hat, and a mane of tangled hair sprouting from between them.
That description proved to be more accurate than I could have possibly imagined, for once he had drawn me into the alley, the coat and hat dropped to the ground, and all that remained was a detached, floating Beard. I tried to scream, but it was already upon my face.
Over the next few months, my life as I knew it began to dissolve. People at my workplace treated me differently, and I was made aware of a strict no facial hair policy that until then I hadn’t known existed. Maybe it didn’t exist until then. The nascent dread of these horrible beings was causing the first hints of what would become a wider-spread panic.
After I lost my job and began walking the streets in search of a new one, I was often mistaken for a homeless man. Which I very nearly became, after the pressure put on my home life reached fever pitch. When my long-time girlfriend left me after I started wearing vests all the time and constantly listened to banjo music.
But, for me to be writing this now, I’ve obviously gotten out from under the Beards’ control. The Beard remained, but control was reversed. I don’t know how or why it happened; if it was through sheer force of will, or that the soul of the Beard inhabiting me withered from lack of attention after I consistently refused to join one of the many facial hair clubs that were now springing up in pubs on every street corner, but suddenly I found myself free.
And what I discovered horrified me. In just a short couple years, the Beards had completely taken over. Lines of bearded men marched the streets and took over parties. The number of outdoor music festivals had exploded exponentially. Wool knit cap and conditioning wax had become the cornerstones of the economy. Craft beer breweries had replaced churches and temples as the premier place of worship. I had awoken in a hairy dystopia.
I was chosen, for whatever reason, to be bearded salvation. To walk the streets among the Beards, unnoticed. To take action against them and all that they’ve come to stand for. A brush-faced vigilante, my beard the feared symbol of the fight against unchecked corruption in the same manner as Gotham’s Bat Signal or McDonaldland’s Grimace Beacon.
So, if you’re reading this and you’d like to join the revolution, look to my Beard. The Beard of the underground, the Beard of the people. Know that together we can lead ourselves out of this dark time, right our path, and send the Beards back to where they belong; the lazy, the unemployed, and the lazy unemployed struggling artist.
Do your part, punch the next guy you see. Punch him right in the Beard.
Photo by Johnny Scott