When the 5 o’clock shadow became all the rage

I just noticed that the guys my daughters are dating — two of whom are about to become my sons-in-law if I can afford the weddings — have that gruff facial stubble you see in men’s magazines, where the fellows look like Navy SEALS on commando raids or linebackers for the New York Giants.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d join the Navy SEALS tomorrow if I didn’t have those weddings to pay for, and I even fancied myself a macho man years ago when I belonged to a gang that had the Shelton public library as its home turf. You’ve heard of the Hell’s Angels? We were the Book Worms.

I should be more observant about the fellows my daughters bring home, and I probably need more father-in-law/son-in-law bonding opportunities, so maybe we can go to the barbershop together.


Who would have thought the “5 o’clock shadow,” as my mother used to call it, would be the rage of the Millennial Generation and no longer the exclusive fashion statement of the Jersey mob.

To me, the stubble look doesn’t suggest, “Hey, I have cool facial hair growth,” but rather “Uhh, I forgot to shave.” When I used to let my beard sprout like that, my father would reach for his wallet and say, “Here’s a few bucks, go buy some razor blades.”

But from what I’ve read, stubble is the rage — an all-purpose cosmetic face fixer-upper, which experts say makes a baby face look manly, hides double chins, pimples, freckles and scars, and takes years off your age. It has even been known to conceal the infamous “turkey neck,” and that’s something we’ll all need, women included.

I also discovered there are different classifications of stubble. One is the “manicured scruff, heavy stubble,” which is a “popular style that gives the impression the wearer is easygoing yet still concerned with being well-groomed.” Totally, that’s me. It’s also “a good option for the balding guy.” Why didn’t I learn about this 25 years ago?

It makes a fellow look “rugged or refined … with a dashing, almost dangerous appeal.” That dangerous thing worries me, though. I could end up in the slammer for too many overdue library books.

I guess you can shave only so many decades before you start to wonder what the meaning of life is when you stare at the man in the mirror. Ergo, I’ve decided to change.

Because I’m known for not acting my age and refusing to accept my age and wishing I was another age, I’m going to grow stubble for the weddings so I can fit in with the cool dudes. I’m worried, though, that my gray stubble will make me look more like Burl Ives than Bono or Tebow.

And before all hell breaks loose, I want to affirm for the record that I love my sons-in-law designate, stubble and all, and since I don’t want a family feud with my wife and daughters, let me say in conclusion: Long live stubble! This country needs more stubble to revive the economy and lower unemployment! Stubble for every man, woman, child, and bookworm!


Joe Pisani may be reached at [email protected]

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