By all rights I should concentrate on the intricate areas while shaving, but I lapsed into a reverie. The subject at hand--the beard. Why? Why do human males grow hair on their faces. What's the point? The beard is completely valueless except to Gillette and Schick and now Harry.
If the beard had a use and honestly kept a person warm in winter, then why in the world would evolution deprive the gals of equivalent protection?
Do bearded males garner a larger share of the nubile maidens than the beardless? Or a disproportianate share of the wealth. I know of no evidence that they do so. The fact that most men shave their beards argues that beards lack a function.
It's sexual dimorphism without purpose or logic. My guess--and it's only a guess--is that the beard-gene clung to a gene with a useful male purpose a couple of hundred thousand years ago and never let go.
I suppose that sexual dimorphism can sometimes be useful. Those magnificent manes sported by the lions of the Serengeti certainly make a formidable statement -- noli me tangere and by the way remember to keep your paws off the the ladies in my harem. I can see that--but then, the males of the extinct European lion managed without a ruff, as did the Bengal tigers.
The gorgeous display of the male peacock is exuberant but inessential -- many more subtle birds manage to signal their gender and their availability without such a prodigious waste of resources.
I should be relieved that it's only the beard that I have to worry about. Imagine if by some quirk of evolution, males of our species grew a big rack of antlers. Way more inconvenient than a mere beard. I can see myself lodged in a doorway, or lying in bed trying to get comfortable while the antlers scratch the headboard or poke the beloved in the eye.
Perhaps civilization would demand that we disbud the antlers at birth? Or we might go the other route and decorate or color or polish the antlers. "How are you wearing your antlers this winter?" "Natural brown, I think, this year, but with golden highlights." Chains of "Mr. Antler" ("discount on sharpening this week only"). Prosthetic antlers for guys declined into the vale of years.
Better a beard than antlers. Definitely.