As Father’s Day rolls around and I watch young kids and their bearded dads frolic in the park, playing dungeons and dragons and witches and wizards with nothing but the congenital toys of the beard and their imaginations, as sons and daughters marvel over hide-the-thing-in-the-beard or swing freely from it like Tarzan on a hairy vine, I am once again reminded of how my dad never had a beard, and how my childhood will forever be missing a beard-shaped hole.
Beards and children go together like Christmas and presents. All the faces of their favourite characters are bearded – Santa, Dumbledore, pirates – and to their tiny undeveloped brains a bearded dad can be easily mistaken for a mythical creature. Meanwhile kids like me, with shaven mortal fathers who seem more like the villain than the hero, will be left wondering why their dad’s face is as naked as their fellow kindergarteners, why his cheeks feel like a dehydrated cat’s tongue and why he doesn’t chuckle when he laughs.
During pregnancy it is as natural for a dad’s beard to grow as a mother’s womb and mammary glands. Once face follicles recognize that a child is on the way, they begin over-producing hair so that masculinity reaches a level where it can be shared. If your dad has failed to foster this process, the parent gender roles will be permanently unbalanced.
Unfortunately, my dad fathered me at a time when white-collar workplaces insisted on clean-shaven faces. In yonder years the philistines believed that looking like a man-child signified strong scruples and good work ethic. This absurdity has since been disproved and the beard is now known to increase productivity and all-round awesomeness by 150%. Though even if you grow a beard, and face dismissal for usurping the office alpha, you need to ask yourself – what is more important, your job or the love and respect of your child?
While my experiences growing up with an unhairy dad have left their marks and scars, the absence of a beard in my life was not wholly negative. The oedipal complex I have developed over my beard-deprived years has prevented me from owning a razor, and as a result my furry chin-friend grows big and healthy. I figured out Santa was bullshit way before the other kids, and am now nihilistic about all powers that exist beyond the immediately tangible. I am independent, strong and cynical. Though, I will never be normal. My understanding of how nuclear relationships function is broken and confused, and no matter how many cars my dad and me fix together, or beers we sink, or cricket we watch, we both know that I will always have two mums. – Miles Bouchard.