There is something about a man with a good beard. Totally sexy.
Many of the men in my life sport one, from a full bushy one to a tentative goatee to what some call a chin curtain.
The Hubby, for example, has worn his beard for the 15 years I've known him. He last saw his chin when he was in college, and that's been a few decades. When it gets too wild, a repository for wayward crumbs and flying bugs, he dutifully trims it.
Some friends have suggested he shave it off. "You'll look younger," they tell him. His beard has turned white in the time he's been with me -- I had nothing to do with that, believe me! -- yet the brown hair on his head is unblemished by a single strand of gray.
He refuses to shave it off, however. Says he can't imagine himself without those whiskers.
My oldest son has a beard, too. It's the color of a raven's wing. When he first grew it years ago, I was shocked to see how much he looked like his late father. Yes, a beard can be that transforming.
My middle son is clean shaven but only temporarily. The barber trimmed his sideburns in such a way that there was a half-inch gap between them and his beard. So... the beard had to go, and now the bottom of his face looks too pale, too strange. Fire that barber, I told him.
Sons three and four have flirted with beards, mostly the five-day designer stubble that's been all the rage. But because they're in college, hitting the books (and, I hope, not the bars or the malls), I suspect those beards have been less of a statement and more a result of running out of razors.
Facial hair, in case you haven't noticed, is fashionable again. Time said so in a story last week, as have some fashion magazines that track such momentous trends.
Displays of fashionably hirsute men are everywhere. George Clooney (sigh) wears a beard. So does Brad Pitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Affleck, David Beckham and a bunch of other hairy celebrities.
Robin Thicke, he of the Miley Cyrus twerking incident, and Simon Cowell, the new Baby Daddy, don't wear beards. But they have been seen sporting stubble every now and then, so I wouldn't be surprised if they chucked their Gillettes and Schicks for a few days.
Apparently plenty of men already have done just that. Razor sales are falling in developed markets, with Schick taking a 10 percent hit last year. Analysts expect more of the same this year.
The most notable beard -- in terms of financial worth, that is -- surely belongs to Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson, who was offered a cool million by 800razors.com to shave his grandfatherly face fuzz. He turned down the offer last month and, through his agent, told the world his beard would go with him to his grave. Hope he has a good set of clippers.
The ancient Greeks regarded beards as a sign of virility, while later Europeans deemed facial hair an accessory to middle class respectability. By the 1960s, however, beards had become part of the hippie counter-culture.
Now, in the second decade of the 21stt century, beards are hip whether you're young or old, accountant or artist. Our dudes are wearing them bushy and groomed, jaw-hugging and jaw-defying, with suits, cardigans or jeans.
I love the look -- as long as the men who grow them clean their trimmed whiskers from the bathroom sink.
(Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun