If you haven’t much else to do and decide to Google “how to grow a beard,” you’ll almost immediately find links to “3 Ways to Grow a Beard” and “17 Ways to Grow and Keep Facial Hair.” Not to mention “22 Steps to Growing a Beard (with pictures).”

I’m proud to say I did it in only one step, and without instruction (or pictures). I stopped shaving.

I decided to stop shaving a couple of weeks ago when I was on a trip and felt it was too much trouble to shave while I was so busy getting lost. Also, I had forgotten to bring my razor with me.

And then I thought, since we were out in a national park and were hiking, a beard would make me look hiking-appropriate and grizzled, which would compensate for my using my daughter’s fourth-grade book bag as a backpack. Also, I had always wanted to be called “grizzled,” mainly because as a younger person I had never had a chance to grizzle.

Men, of course, grow beards for various reasons. Some of us think it makes us look more distinguished, and we immediately start quoting from philosophical works we’ve never actually read or wouldn’t understand if we had. However, we are able to finally pronounce Nietzsche.

Some of us think a beard makes us look more pensive and contemplative, as we pensively stroke our beards while we try desperately to figure out why exactly we walked into the room.

And many, of course, are just curious to see what a beard on their face looks like and whether it will make them a better driver or help them figure out a complicated wine list. They want to see if it will transform their relationships with family and friends who still haven’t noticed you’re growing a beard although it’s been three months now, you know.

I have had beards before. In fact, I once had a beard for nearly 30 years, until it went out one night to get cigarettes and never came back.

Actually, I shaved away my beard around 10 years ago because I was curious to see what I looked like under the hair and whether people would recognize me and demand that I return the books I had borrowed from them. I also had started noticing that the beard was even grayer than the hair on my head and made me look much older than the 23 I thought I still was.

What I had forgotten, though, is that growing a beard means going through beard-growing stages. First, there is unkempt, following closely on kempt. Then there is itchy. Then there is scruffy. Then there is itchy and scruffy. Sometimes, there is scruffy before itchy.

After some careful trimming, you can go back to grubby. And then finally there is OK, time to shave it off.

I haven’t done that yet, but I am considering going out for a pack of cigarettes.

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