Beards are a perfect allegory for life.
They go through phases, much like the Sphinx's riddle about mankind ("What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?").
A beard starts out manly and rugged when it's still early enough you can convince everyone it's five o'clock shadow. You look like Indiana Jones, or maybe Crockett from Miami Vice. Your stubble says "I shave, but I haven't recently since I've been too busy going out, fist-fighting nazis and punching drug dealers in the damn face. I've got too many things to do right now to deal with grooming. But I'll get back to it." It's cool. Everybody respects a good five o'clock shadow.
During the final phase of the life of the beard, it is majestic and untamed. Your beardly beardiness is like something elemental, like a hairy man-beast who clambered down from the howling wilderness of the Canadian Yukon to plant its flag in your motherfucking territory. It makes you more than a man, much like Batman's mask.
Everybody respects a good beard. Except for THOSE people. Don't be one of THOSE people.
And then there's the in-between phase.
Not enough beard to be a beard. Too gnarly to be a five o'clock shadow.
You spend several weeks looking like a crazy homeless person. Every person of the female variety you associate with (and some of the dudes) gets a little twitch in their right eye-lid looking at you, because every instinct down to the fibrous core of their being is telling them to wrestle you down and abort the patchy abomination that's now growing in on your face. Give it a mercy killing. Stop it before it destroys us all.
Your neo-beard makes you, in the immortal words of Garfield, look like you ate a box of Milk Duds and then kissed a cat.
Even when you trim it, keep it as neat as possible, you feel like you'd be more at home, visually, hanging out around a trash can fire and maybe sucking down Arrow vodka straight from the bottle.
In other words, I temporarily gave up. I have something this afternoon that I really need to not look like a weirdo at, so I had to shave it off. I might go back to growing it afterwards, though. Hopefully, if it DOES come in, it'll be done by the time I need to start looking like I give a hoot about personal hygiene again.
And lo, the cherubs of St. Bernie, patron saint of beards, wept and gnashed their teeth. Or perhaps plucked at their beards. I will have to commit penitence: say "hail Bernie" a hundred times over a rosary or something.
Kind of sad, really. It was coming in strong enough that I could stroke it when I pondered something perplexing. But not strong enough that trimming it made it looked like I actually engaged in grooming activity of some sort.
I'm STILL working on that Clone story. Hopefully, I'm at the climax. Bo just keeps having things to tell me, though. He's like a house guest which refuses to leave, even though it's well past midnight and you've been theatrically yawning for a half hour. He's a welcome one, though, so you don't want to just physically push him out the door. Instead you're just prompting him with things like "Oh, really?" and "That's great, man." All hoping he gets to the point, picks up his hat, nods politely and steps out for the night.