Soldier on, ye bearded folk

Enter one student's quest to grow all the way.


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It was a dark day for Eric Briesacher. As the morning of Nov. 30 weighed heavily on his bearded face, he sauntered over to the sink and noticed the razor lying forgotten on the counter. After 30 days of neglect, the cold steel blades glared menacingly in anticipation of the following morning. Just as November was coming to an end, so Eric’s facial hair would meet a similar fate. He stared into the mirror and solemnly reflected on the past month. He felt the warmth of his newest companion caressing his face as he thoughtfully stroked his beard as thousands of famous men had before him.

It had been a difficult journey for Eric. Someone unfamiliar with the trials brought on by “No-Shave November” simply wouldn’t understand the pride of a “No-Shave Champion.” For these hairy veterans, November is a time of prejudice, persecution and persistence.

Eric’s enemies surrounded him. They have been everywhere. They are his family, his friends and any citizen passing by him. Discouragement descended upon the shadow on his face. There was no escape from the sneers, glib remarks and silent judgments of these enemies. There was only the courage to continue — courage rooted in the quest for manhood, glory and grizzly immortality.

Motivations, though, are always beset by struggles.

Eric’s first struggle came from within. His own genetic makeup was causing slow, spotty, sporadic beard growth that threatened his appearance and dignity.

“For the fist week, I didn’t look like I needed to shave,” he said. “I went to Truman State University the next weekend but no one could tell I was on ‘No-Shave November.’”

From there, his struggles multiplied. The common disability of the college student to grow a substantial beard manifests in gross sums every November. A proper, full beard can be a symbol of utter manly dominance, whereas anything less is a devastating failure in the test of puberty. Eric paid the price, in the form of frequent verbal abuse.

“My stupid, annoying cousin called me ‘shaggy’ for a whole week, and I was like, ‘Shut the fuck up,’” he said.

The names didn’t stop there. In the span of the month, he became the subject of derogatory remarks such as, “You look like Keanu Reeves.” His spotty scruff struggled to mask his face in shame as his quest for lumberjack looks lingered on.

But as the opposition increased, so did his beard. With each day, millimeters of reddish-brown scruff emerged to roughen up a face once softened by the tears of defeat. Flash forward to Nov. 30: The date marks the dawn of a new era for Eric. Keanu Reeves comparisons have been replaced with references to Chuck Norris and Burt Reynolds, two of his bearded idols. He dedicates his new facial foliage to his late grandfather, known for his flowing chin locks.

“He’s passed on now, so his memory lives on through my beard,” Eric said.

Eric’s enemies, to their anguish, took note. They continue to tremble under their own prickly discomfort as he leaps upon them with calculated jabs from his chin. Now a true man, Eric’s faithful persistence has earned him a position of triumph among his peers.

As the morning of Dec. 1 arrived, Eric was unable to completely part with his chin companion. After retrieving a straight razor to tame his bristly beast, Eric condensed his beard into a lush goatee to prepare for “Don’t-Shave December."

For all the splendor of his rugged lion’s mane, bravery still grows thicker than facial hair.

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