You’ve probably noticed that men with old-timey facial hairstyles are now everywhere.

I’m not talking about a little five o’clock shadow. I mean big, bushy Grizzly Adams-type beards and handle bar mustaches. Just last week, I saw a pair of friendly muttonchops. Not to be confused with ordinary muttonchops, friendly muttonchops are connected by a robust moustache. Which is an impressive accomplishment. The question is:

Q: Why?

A: Why what?

Q: Why all the hair?

A: It is hard to say. Even the pogonologists don’t agree.

Q: The pogonologists? Who are they?

A: That’s what you call people who study beards. And before you ask, YES, pogonology is a thing.

Q: So what do the pogonologists say?

A: As I started to explain, beard history is complicated. For example, one analysis of British facial hair and marriage trends between 1842 and 1971 found that beards are more popular when the supply of single men exceeded that of single women.

Q: What does that mean?

A: It means that, facing stiff competition, men grow beards to attract the ladies.

Q: So women LIKE beards? Is that what is happening now?

A: Possibly. But men may also be growing them for other reasons.

Q: Like what?

A: Well, they DO hide visible signs of aging around your face, head and neck. I mean, that’s why I would grow a beard.

Q: Fine. But what about men?

A: Men are vain, too. For example, Abraham Lincoln first grew his famous chin strap beard in 1860 after an 11-year-old girl wrote to tell him that his thin face would look better with one.

Q: Is vanity the only reason men grow facial hair?

A: I also blame Gillette. Schick, too.

Q: Why is that?

A: One day, one of these companies offers a five-blade razor on a swiveling handle. The next day, the other has six blades with a cooling shaving gel strip. That’s not counting all the shave clubs that deliver their elegant, hand-crafted razors to men’s homes. It’s too much. Any company that wants you to shave that badly is going to create a revolt.

Q: Who, in your opinion, should be allowed to grow beards?

A: Beards are acceptable in the following professions: philosopher, Viking explorer, ZZ Top guitarist and Santa Claus.

Q: What about all those baseball and hockey players with the playoff beards?

A: Those should definitely be banned.

Q: Why?

A: All their lives, these players’ mothers have dreamed of their child appearing on national television in the World Series or Stanley Cup. All the relatives will be watching. I’m telling you: grandma does not want to see an unshaven face.

Q: Surely you have something positive to say about facial hair?

A: Gone with the Wind was a better movie thanks to Rhett Butler’s mustache.