A recent preliminary study has found that men’s beards, when allowed to grow to at least an inch or two, grow a species of bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermidis, that has anti-bacterial properties, possibly even against the dreaded Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA bacteria.
This has induced me to examine my own beard. I have not the facilities for proper bacterial culture, so I limited myself to visual observations. Here are my conclusions:
Firstly: It is almost all white, but there are a few dark brown and a few gray ones left.
Secondly: it is not as long as it looks. The longest individual whisker I could find is about 6” long, it is at the bottom of my chin. I had allowed all of them to grow as long as they wanted to, a couple of years ago, but I had to stop that experiment when they reached ZZ Top length and would get stuck in my armpit when I rolled over in my sleep.
Thirdly: here’s a fact that is little known among those who can’t or haven’t grown a beard: yanking on a whisker is like yanking on a pubic hair. They have large roots and it can hurt like the devil. Getting my beard caught in my armpit would literally yank me awake. Whence forth its current length.
Fourthly: not all whiskers grow to the same length. For example, the little inverted triangle just under the lower lip, the ones the hipsters grow these days. Those grow to only a couple of inches long and rarely need trimming. The ones on the upper lip seem to want to grow forever, and mine want to grow straight, forming a classic soup strainer. I therefore trim them short.
Fifthly: having a longer white beard, coupled with long white hair, will get one mistaken for a number of other people. Santa Claus, of course, or a wizard. I have heard background comments, when out in public, of a fat Gandalf being in the area, or a Hogwarts professor. I prefer to be thought of, by Terry Pratchett cognoscenti, as being employed at the Unseen University, where all us wizards never actually practice magic much, due to the widespread destruction that occurs when we fight. Pogonophobes would be justified in their fear.
Boy, I enjoy being obscure.