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Sexytime: A Lament For Paul Ryan’s Beard

Paul Ryan’s misguided decision to shave his beard prompted an emergency chat between Sexytime columnists Rich Cromwell and Mollie Hemingway.


On Tuesday, January 5, many things happened. Barack Obama proposed his latest executive action. Donald Trump said ridiculous things. Hillary offered her recipe for homemade tortillas. Bernie Sanders discovered a new technology known as the automated teller machine, though he apparently didn’t use one from the bank at which he has an account. All the other political critters did their critter things. And then, the blood-curdling howls rang out as we saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness.

That’s right — Paul Ryan shaved his beard.

Fresh year. Fresh start. Fresh shave.

A photo posted by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on

And the women, well, the women were none too happy about it. The men, well, the men didn’t seem to care one way or the other.

MOLLIE: I believe my initial tweet on this tragedy puts forth my position well: 

RICH: Winter is coming. No, wait. That would mean he was super premature since we’re nowhere close to spring. Maybe it’s that he’s decided that his female constituents don’t count. He is a Republican. War On Women and all that. Or maybe it was just itchy.

MOLLIE: I am legit angry.

RICH: That’s respectable anger! As a presently hirsute man, I can say that my wife and most of my kids are fans of my beard and would howl were I to get out my razor. On the other hand, as a man who is not normally given to gazing upon other men with a look of longing, even men I’m assured are quite dreamy, I must admit Ryan’s fresh shave does hold a certain allure. No Shave November was way back in 2015 and beards honestly take effort. A little lazy scruff is much more enjoyable and easier to maintain. There are way fewer oils and trimming and dedication to worry with. Maybe Ryan needs the extra time not focused on oils and trimming to focus on dealing with cranky caucus mates, omnibus spending bills, and executive overreach, errr, actions. So maybe he did this for you, even if you’re angry in the short term.

MOLLIE: But seriously, what was he thinking, Rich? What was he thinking? Look upon it! It was so beautiful!

RICH: As Grandpa Simpson once noted, even mere sideburns such as those pioneered by Ambrose Burnside, Appomattox 1865, make one look like a girl. When we think of beauty, we typically do think of girls, so your point is valid.

Ryan didn’t stop at sideburns, though. No, the Speaker of the House went all in on the hirsute glory exemplified by earlier paeans to American greatness — Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, and Chester A. Arthur. And if there’s one thing you’re right about, though, it’s that Chester A. Arthur was a beautiful man, so your point may still be valid.

MOLLIE: OK, I’ve calmed down now. True story. I was at a party a few weeks ago and got to chatting with a bunch of women. We were upset about the bloated omnibus bill Ryan pushed through, and we were talking about our disappointment with Ryan and hope that he’d improve in the new year. And then there was a lengthy pause. “But that beard ….” said one of the ladies. And we all just started gasping and talking about it. My husband took the opportunity to point out how weird it is that women are allowed to gush about the sexiness of men’s facial hair, but if a bunch of dudes talk about, uh, traits they find attractive in women, all of a sudden they’re being hissed at.

RICH: Those who hiss at those dudes are idiots who hate biology and can safely be ignored. I mean, really, marketers don’t choose certain types to poke thumbs in our eyes, but because they know those types are generally pleasing. There are minor derivations, though, and one such derivation is apparently Janna Ryan, First Lady of the Speaker of the House. While Ryan’s masculine wiles are of great import to said House, they take on a different tone when it comes to the home. And when it comes to the home that song goes a little something like this.

The Ryans have three children, so obviously Janna had no problem with previous clean-shaven incarnations of Paul. While some of you ladies may bemoan his decision to unsheath his razor, it’s undeniable that Janna doesn’t consider that a prerequisite for unsheathing, well, you know and hers is the preference that truly matters. So kudos, Ryan, for being a man who isn’t afraid to tickle the thighs in myriad ways. If ever there were a time to flit between embracing traditional rules of engagement and skirting them, it’s now.

MOLLIE: Rich, I need that beard back. America needs that beard back.

RICH: It is an election year. We need leaders who are swinging Mjolnir like Norse gods, so, for America, bring it back. It’s the only choice.