This is a public service announcement from an owner of considerable facial shag (not that kind, jeez).
It is okay to stare at a heavy beard. We are basically used to that. Your kids will gawk up at us and even hide from us. We’re used to that, too.
It’s not so okay to reach up and start playing with it without permission. I have empathy for what pregnant women go through, with everyone rubbing the belly without leave.
It is okay to say you want to braid it. However, it’s usually not very appealing when actually done. And if you want to kill the chances of getting to braid it, don’t say ‘it would be so cuuuuuuute!’ Cuuuuuuute really isn’t the look bearded guys are going after.
It is dumb to ask ‘how long have you been growing that?’ Think about it. Most of us eventually trim them off at the ends (may have done so for twenty years), so the question is pointless (and the first one everyone asks). I’ve had mine thirteen years. ‘How long does it take to get that long?’ is an intelligent question, use that one instead.
It is okay to ask if we play Santa at Christmas, especially if (like me) we look very much like a young Santa.
It is very helpful, at dining, to point out if something has gotten lodged in it. Most of us want to keep our beards very clean. It is, however, pretty dumb to ask ‘saving that for later?’ No, I really don’t want to slurp stale or decaying food scraps out of my beard. I’m already embarrassed enough, like most people would be if they got marinara sauce on their white blouse’s cleavage. If you let me know, I can go to the men’s room and straighten things out, and it was good of you.
It isn’t very polite to frankly remark, ‘I think you’d look better without the beard, I can’t stand beards on men.’ We would not generally say to you: ‘You really need to put a lot more makeup on, your natural face looks pasty and old.’
It is okay to ask fairly thinking questions about it. ‘Does it cause problems using power tools?’ Yep. Have to be very careful. ‘What’s the worst beard disaster you ever had?’ Got Gorilla Glue in it, had to cut a chunk out.
It is not okay to yank on it. Surprising we have to mention this, but kids especially do it. Please don’t let your child do this.
It’s a little intrusive to ask if it’s religious, though I don’t think it’s intrusive to ask the general question about why we grow it. In my case it’s simple: I dislike shaving, always did.
If you like it, it’s okay to tell us so. If you don’t like the way we wear it, it’s not very polite to tell us what we should do to it to please you. Not unless you’d be okay with us telling you that those jeans make your posterior look pudgy and you should get different ones.