I love unexpected inspiration. Especially when that inspiration happens on the second leg of a overnight journey to an international destination with a three-year old in tow. Oh, yes.

My trusty sidekick Wyatt (said three-year old) and I are in Germany visiting friends for a week or so. We’re using the opportunity to drink crazy strong European coffee — fizzy fruity drinks for the little man — pet an array of abnormally friendly Deutsche dogs and check out the squeaky clean shaven faces of the extremely well coifed locals.

I guess they didn’t read Andrew Dicken’s super funny, totally spot-on essay on the rebirth of the beard. Tucked in ShortList — a magazine new to me — Dicken’s piece was my in-flight entertainment/inspiration from London to Dusseldorf. Part social history of the beard, “… until a few years ago, a beard would’ve marked [a man] as a fringe member of Western society, such as a hippy, communist or gnome,” and part personal essay, “Since well before puberty, it’s been my ambition to grow a beard. A proper beard, that is. Not a David Brent-esque goatee or something that looks like I’ve missed a bit of shaving but a Galifianakis, a Blessed. I’d even settle for a Gyllenhaal. But nature has denied me,” Dicken’s chunk of writing is honest and funny and makes you want to grow a fluffy expanse of facial hair — even if you can’t.

“My beard angst is not simply that I want to grow a beard, it’s that I can’t. At least, not a really manly one that tells people I’ve lived. I’m in my mid-30s, I’ve done stuff, I’ve earned a beard.”

You’re kinda my new hero, Andrew Dickens.

- Marisa

I’m trying to figure out how to slip this little number onto my wish list:

Hair India: A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan

This is the next generation of coffee table book. A comprehensive tour of the wildly hirsute men of India by Richard McCallum — author and pogonologist — and Chris Stowers, renowned international photographer.

Amazon claims that the book is currently out of stock — and of course it is. This is good stuff. But I’m sure it can be found with a bit of creative hunting. I’m going to start looking now.

- Marisa

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