Every guy knows that growing a beard is a way of saying “fuck it…I’ve just been through a searing drama or trauma of some kind and I’m kinda sick of keeping up with the clean-cut appearance so, you know, I need to go boho for a while.” Some guys grow beards and keep them for years (or all their lives) because they look good and it fits who they are — a different deal altogether. But temporary beards are about expressing emotional recovery, or in some cases an urge to announce a different attitude.

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I grew whiskers after losing my job with People magazine in March 1998. I still had my L.A. Times Syndicate column but my Mr. Showbiz column didn’t start until October and I was kind of upset about losing the People income. Growing a scraggly Bob Dylan beard (which is all I’ve ever been able to manage) felt right under the circumstances.

Last night the Hollywood Reporter‘s Andrew Wallenstein opined that in yesterday’s 60 Minutes appearance Conan O’Brien came across as more tragic than comic…a deeply hurt individual licking his wounds for all to see.” Well, sort of but not really. Hurt, yeah, but not deeply. He seemed okay to me, but the beard pretty much said it all.