Lose the razor and save water

I hate shaving.

I've never enjoyed the morning ritual of lathering up and scraping my face with something sharp enough to lop off big hunks of me. And the only blade I've ever found that didn't give me horrible razor burn is the ridiculously expensive Gillette Fusion, which is apparently made out of diamonds and platinum because I bought an electric guitar once for what four of these babies cost.

For those reasons, I wore a beard for most of life (as you can see in my mugshot). But in the past few years, I've gone for the more modern goatee look most of the time, which means shaving a larger surface area, which, as I already mentioned, I hate.

The last time I grew a full beard was last year during the winter, and my then-fiancee (now my wife) told me on several occasions that she felt about my beard the same way I feel about shaving. "It's just not you," she would say.

It also appeared to bother my now-stepdaughter. She, too, said that I looked better with a goatee instead of a beard and told me several times to shave it off. I finally complied, and it was back to shaving more.

But now I think I have a way out.

Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered us to cut back on our water usage. I've already railed in this space against people wasting water. What better way for me to save my 10 percent than to stop shaving?

I have no idea how much water I use when I shave, but it's got to be enough to add up to a few gallons a week. That's hundreds of gallons a year.

Now what if the rest of the men in Gwinnett County followed suit? Or the rest of the men in Georgia? I'd wager the water savings would be in the millions of gallons. We'd have a state full of Grizzly Adamses, but at least we'd have enough drinking water.

And why does the beard get such a bad rap, anyway? Many famous and respected men have worn beards.

Abraham Lincoln, almost universally regarded as our best president, is famous for his top hat and facial hair. The great American writer Ernest Hemingway had a very distinguished beard. As the National Beard Registry Web site reminds us, from Jesus to Uncle Jesse, some of our most influential men have chosen ZZ Top over the close crop.

In addition to saving water, think how much time we'd save. According to beardsandbaldies.com, the average man spends 3,350 hours in his lifetime shaving. That comes out to about 19 weeks spent in front of a mirror trying not to cut ourselves.

And think of the versatility a beard affords you.

You can grow a nice, neat beard that you can stroke thoughtfully when people ask you questions. They're liable to take whatever answer you give as the truth - even if you just make it up.

Or grow a wild, wooly biker-beard and walk into your neighborhood pub with your own homegrown natural deterrent to bar fights.

So what do you say, men of north Georgia? Shall we unite in our cause and follow the governor's orders? Shall we thicken up the mutton chops while we wait for rain drops? We should proclaim it loudly: If ain't raining, we ain't shaving.

At least until our wives make us.

Or they stop shaving.

Come to think of it, that bucket-in-the-shower-thing might be worth exploring after all.

Nate McCullough is the copy desk chief for the Gwinnett Daily Post. E-mail him at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com.