With a Great Beard Comes Great Responsibility
Deconstructing Your Play-Off Beard:
How to make the most of the support you’re showing your team
The tradition of NHL playoff beards goes back to the glory days of the New York Islanders of the early 1980s. In the 30 years since, the tradition has become more and more pervasive amongst the NHL teams themselves, and has seen the tradition spill over into the fan base that support each of those teams deep into the playoffs. By mid-June, it becomes easier and easier to spot the male fans of the few remaining teams in the NHL who are still competing for the Stanley Cup.
I greatly applaud this great beard growing tradition that has been brought on by the NHL. In our modern society, it is seldom acceptable for men to sport a wild unmanaged beard. It only feels to be culturally acceptable when your team is going deep into the playoffs, or when you’re hitting the slopes. But, I digress. The true point of this article is not to celebrate the wonderful tradition of playoff beards (which I believe should be celebrated by all). (I would love to see a President of the United States have to explain away an unmanaged playoff beard to a foreign dignitary with a sheepish, “It’s the playoffs”.)
No, this article is about what to do with that glorious rugged beard you’ve been sporting for 2 ½ months. You’ve invested so much in supporting your team and in growing that beard – don’t let it fall the victim of the clippers and razor without a second thought. You have a myriad of options beyond just a simple shave. And as always… with a great beard comes great responsibility!
I’ve “deconstructed” my beard on several occasions, and it always works best if you’re willing to be a little creative, can laugh at yourself a least a little (and have others laugh at you, potentially a lot), and have the right tools to create your beard masterpiece. The most important tool you need is a razor. Without it, it’s going be a little difficult to sculpt the untamed scruff on your face into something of beauty. I also recommend a beard trimmer. The beard trimmer allows for more precision than a simple razor, and allows for better length control of your overall design. Shaving cream is also a nice to have, but let’s face it, you’ve been itching your face constantly for the last 2 months, so it’s not like razor burn is any worse!
No, I’m not referring to the awful waste of time that Lebron James had us endure a few years ago before he decided to move to Miami. I’m talking about the first major decision you need to make in your beard sculpting journey – goatee vs porkchops. Each offers its own possibilities, but unfortunately it’s very difficult to achieve one of the beards on the “porkchops” list if you began with a “goatee” start. Perhaps I need to explain further.
The “goatee” journey begins with a trim of the hair in the upper cheek area. From this start, it is possible to achieve a chinstrap, a Lincoln, a circle beard, a goatee (duh!), and a myriad of mustaches including the 1970s porn ‘stache, the handlebar, and the pencil.
The “porkchops” begins with either a trim of the mustache, or with the shaving of the chin. Both the friendly mutton chops and stashburns are achievable from this start.
Once you’ve made that initial decision, the sky is the limit. Just remember to think before you shave. You won’t be able to regrow any parts that were mistakenly shaven without investing some time into doing it.
The rest of the journey is really up to you. This is the time to let your imagination and creativity run wild! I’ve found that a good approach for “newbies” to the deconstruction of a playoff beard is to set aside a couple hours to run through the entire gamut of options. In those two hours, you’ll be able to “test” out seven or eight different styles of beard. Once you start, I recommend that you keep going until your face is completely shaved. You may very well be tempted to stop at some points along the way, because you look so darn good in that particular beard. Keep in mind that if you always had stopped trying new ice cream flavors at vanilla, you would have never discovered chocolate. I’d also highly recommend having a friend taking pictures as you go through the metamorphosis from a full beard to a clean shave. Trust me, you’ll want the pictures when you’re done. Just make sure to pick the “friend” carefully, or a few pictures of you in a very comical beard may end up on Facebook without your consent.
Tales from the Front “Pencil Mustache” Lines
I’ve deconstructed my own beard probably about 6 times. My first deconstruction was just as I described above. I went from a full beard to a chin strap with goatee to a goatee with side burns to 1970s porn ‘stache to a more standard mustache to a pencil mustache. (I think there were one or two more in there, but they’re escaping me right now.) At every step along the way, my girlfriend (who’s my fiancé now) took pictures. Some included props, like a cowboy hat or a sailor hat, while others were just “plain”. I have seldom laughed more in my life, and I couldn’t keep a straight face at all the entire time we were doing this.
My next deconstruction involved me walking into work one morning (the Monday after a ski trip), sporting a mustache that looked something like this:
Luckily, I worked for a start-up at the time, so I didn’t get fired right on the spot. The only downside was that any time I would talk to any of my colleagues; they would immediately begin to crack up. Their laughter would remind me of how ridiculous I looked, and I, in turn, would start laughing as well. Needless to say, I wasn’t very productive that day.
I’ve deconstructed my beards several times since. Luckily, I’ve grown in my beard maturity, and have begun to be able to sport a ridiculous beard or mustache without constantly cracking myself up. In this maturity, I have found a great satisfaction from watching others notice my beard. I’ve begun call it the “Steps of Beard Acceptance”. The first glance is always a mixture of disbelief and shock. This is closely followed by a long look at my entire person to try to determine if this beard was intentional or even if it was meant as a joke. If I manage to hold a straight face at this point, the person will usually settle upon the fact that this beard was intentional, and though I am seriously wearing this ridiculous beard, it mostly meant as tongue-in-cheek. At this point, I’ll typically receive a smile and an approving nod.
I don’t always sport a beard,
… but when I do,
… I prefer it to be ridiculous!
(And yes, that is our very own J.S. rocking a perfectly deconstructed play-off beard)