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MIT student blogger Chris M. '12

Beard today, gone tomorrow by Chris M. '12

a touching tale of a man and his beard.

November means a lot of things for different people. Thanksgiving and turkey; the spectacular death throes of leaves clinging to trees; the sudden decrease in sunlight as temperatures plummet; and of course beards.

“Beards?” you say. Yes, beards. See, November is also home to a hallowed tradition known as the Novembeard (“No Shave November” in some regions, or “Beardvember”). The rule are simple. Don’t shave, and try and grow the heartiest, manliest beard you can in the span of one month.

Leonidas is the patron saint of Beardvember
This is easier said than done, even though you have no control over it. See, some guys just can’t grow a beard. The best you can squeeze out is a patchy tuft of fuzz on your lips and cheeks. Or worse – the dreaded neckbeard.

And for something entirely automatic, growing a beard is actually quite tough. To illustrate the self-discipline and emotional turmoil involved, I’ve (unsurprisingly) prepared a graph.

As you can see, going into week one, you immediately question your decision as every day you look in the mirror and look like a slob. Your beard growth very well could be accidental; the result of a few long nights on campus spent tooling. By the end of the week though, it’s clear that this is an intentional decision, and you enter the “Statham Stubble” region. Life is good, and you feel like doing all sorts of manly things like fixing motorcycles and blowing things up. “No problem, I’ve got this” you think. Words which you will regret in week two.

Around week two is when your beard decides it hates your face, and in an attempt to break free from your jaw it itches unbelievably bad. Nothing helps. It’s a battle of determination to see whose will is strongest. You’ve got to break it like a wild stallion made of hair.

After about a week, it stops itching so much but you’re faced with another problem. You’re in the in-between zone of beard length and the beard has a bad tendency to stick out, making it look prickly and gross. a few days longer though and you’ve reached beard-vana. You’ve got a handsome patch of manliness that you can be proud of. It’s a trophy and a sign of your commitment and masculinity.

And that’s when beard-induced delusion sets in. Your beard has grown on you (hurr hurr hurr), and the two of you are inseparable (ok I’ll stop). You begin to think “Maybe I’ll keep it, maybe I’ll be one of those beard guys.” This is the last half week or so of November, and you justify it to yourself any way you can. “It’ll keep my face warm” you say. “You know not everyone can grow one” you say. “What if I have a beard tan line?”. At the end of the week though, the strong persevere in the knowledge of what the Novembeard was: a fleeting experience, a journey cut too short, it’s tragedy is it’s beauty; and in the hum of the razor approaching your face, you see all of the things that the beard could’ve let you be:

A contestant on Survivor

A professor

A thug

A lumberjack.
But it just wasn’t meant to be, and as you shear your face, watching the hair drift down like ash in the fallout, you catch a glimpse of something long forgotten: your cheeks. Your skin rises from the ashes of your beard’s death like a glorious phoenix, and races up to greet your eager fingers. Smooth as a freshly shaved face, your mind races at the implications: “No more food stuck on my face! No more tickling my lips as I talk!”

“No more beard!”

Then, so brief as to be almost imperceptible, a moment of sadness. Resolute you nod in acceptance and pay your respects to all that the beard has given you. A moment of reflection shows just how much you’ve grown in your brief time together.

“No more beard.”
That is, until next year….

21 responses to “Beard today, gone tomorrow”

  1. SR says:


    Awesome graph! You do look older with beard though smile

  2. Corey says:

    I spy a potential energy landscape for beards!

  3. Emad '14 says:

    “Your beard has grown on you (hurr hurr hurr)”

    I laughed too hard at that line.

    Unfortunately I wasn’t able to follow through with Novembeard this year. But there’s always Manuary, an occasion for which Leonidas is but one patron saint

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris,
    1. I notice that you only blog at the beginning of each month. Is that intended or is it just a coincident?

    2. Which one (week 1/2/3/4 or no beard) is your favorite?

    By the way, you are one very attractive man. But I’m sure you know that already.

  5. I’ve been trying to grow one but I can’t get the mustache the link with the rest!

  6. Vidya says:

    I hope you don’t have a girlfriend, because she’ll be punishing YOU in 3 months with No Make-up March!

  7. Ted Kim says:

    Is anybody who helps me to admit to MIT here?

  8. Seth Martin says:

    Hahahahaha. This was highly amusing. You grow a nice beard though!

  9. I’m in the “Statham Stubble” region right now…
    let’s see how this goes, it might be fun ;D

  10. Freshman says:

    Thank you for explaining to me the Novembeard. I just thought all the guys here were absentminded and forgot to shave. Also, I really loved the thug picture.

  11. Ava'15? says:

    This is awesome! I have a friend who refused to shave his beard until our football team lost and he kept his beard for quite awhile!

  12. Pearland Tejas?! Aw helll naw, wassup muh brothuh from anutha houston suburb?! Lol.

  13. gess says:

    your week one beard was very hot on you, you should keep it. you look too young with a shaved face. week one was very handsome.

  14. Kelli says:

    I absolutely loved this article smile All the pictures were awesome, especially the thug one.

  15. Hery '13 says:

    “Jason Statham” stubble for me as well!
    Your post is awesome, and your graph actually makes sense!
    Good job!

  16. Trent says:

    with a beard, you look just like skylar

  17. Josh says:

    FYI: You can totally rock the beard. It works.

  18. Aishwarya says:

    Must have been a lot of fun for you….just one question..
    “No more tickling my lips as I talk!”
    Does that really happen…i have never kept a beard…must be annoying

  19. Oye says:

    You survivors pic is hot! You should contemplate doing it more than once in a year!
    And you are an awesome guy! Im sure you know that.

  20. Norah says:

    lol..That was entertaining. You should definitely go for the week one beard. Appearance wise, it was the best look for you.

  21. Ceesay says:

    Wow, you really looked like a thug in the thug picture. By the way, the beard suits you well. Maybe you should consider keeping it. Hilarious post.