As far as I can tell, the last time I shaved was twenty years ago yesterday. If you’re curious what two decades of beard looks like, here’s a recentish picture of me:
That’s actually from three and a half years ago (I don’t take pictures very often, and appear in them less), but while I have somewhat less hair on top now than when that picture was taken, my beard looks about the same. (White hairs have started to appear in the interim, but they’re still very much in the minority.)
As you’ll note, my beard does not in fact extend to ZZ Top proportions. It’s fairly curly (much more so than the hair on the top of my head), so it extends down to my collarbone if you stretch it out. The hairs are still growing, but hairs fall out if I run my hand through my beard, and that’s the equilibrium point between those two forces.
My moustache in particular doesn’t look like it’s been growing for 20 years. My moustache hair grows notably more slowly than my beard hair; in fact, for the first year or two of growing the beard, the moustache hair and the beard hair didn’t meet around the corners of my mouth.
As to why I started growing the beard: shaving was a pain, both literally and metaphorically. So I stopped, and haven’t seen any reason to restart. It may not be to everybody’s taste, but I’m happy with it, as is Liesl, and that’s really all that matters to me. And I’ve worked in professions in which my beard is only mildly eccentric, if that, so there really aren’t any social pressures for me to shave.
I also don’t cut the hair on the top of my hair regularly, and in fact I haven’t been cutting it regularly it for one year longer than the beard. That hair has gotten cut on two or three occasions over the intervening decades, however, unlike my beard. In general, I’m less attached to having long hair on top of my head (or, indeed, any hair on top of my head) than I am to my beard, but I can’t imagine getting back in the habit of cutting it regularly, either.
This post has not been revised since publication.