Laura loves beards, beer, and Bend.

Beard Love by Laura Beverungen August 7, 1981. Baltimore, Maryland. 4:12 a.m. Beard Enthusiast Laura Beverungen is born.

Brrrrr. This place is cold. Birth! What a hellacious ordeal for me; just an awful shock to my system. I mean, could it be any colder? And so bright. Sheesh. A blanket would be nice. And perhaps some shades. Who is it I need to talk to to get some milk around here? I've got some feelings to eat. This is all very emotional for me. Okay, I'm in mom's arms now. Much better. Much better. Ahhh..... Now wait just a minute. Hold the phone. Things are a bit blurry for me right now, but who is that?... Jesus?... ZZ TOP?... Bin Laden?... Abe?... Willie?... Alas, it's my father! And he's rockin' a glorious, stupendous, magnificent human display of manliness; a beard. And so began my Beard-Love-Journey...

As a child, I came to view beards as a sign of security, of care, of nourishment, of comfort. I saw them as a beacon for all that was right in the world. In fact, this indication was so strong that when my father once shaved his bristles, I was caused a grave confusion. Utter bedlam! No longer could I decide between night and day, right and wrong, pleasure and pain. My existence was rattled to its very core. For fish are to water as Laura is to beards.

As an adult, I began gravitating towards bearded men in a romantic sense. The opportunities for which increased dramatically when I moved from Baltimore, Maryland to Bend, Oregon. I mean, "The Zappa." would occasionally appear back home, but in Bend, it was beards galore. Chin Puffs. Friendly Muttonchops. French forks. Hollywoodian's. Fu man chu's. The Undercover Brother. These men in the North West love themselves a beard and Laura in the North West loves herself a facial funfair.  I learned that my pull toward these bewhiskered humans spoke to my desire to spawn. For beards, apparently, serve as some sort of primal indicator to women signifying strength in fertility. Yet, time and again, none of my experiences were headed anywhere near that end. And so began 'The Dark Side' of my beard love. For moths are to a flame as Laura is to a groomed Vandyke.

By the end of 2009, a declaration was made to call it quits with bearded men. My experiences only left me bewildered and confused. "That chin curtain sure is good to my meat curtains, but my heart's not in it." Upon looking back and reflecting, what surfaced as similar-- as the only common denominator, in these failed attempts at love was THE BEARD! And so, in a place of deep seeded confusion, I vowed to steer clear of those face gardens. To no longer view it as a massive sign of attraction, but merely as a beacon of hurt. My mantra to live by became, 'No Bearded Men in Twenty Ten.' For porn is to a catholic school boy as Laura is to a hairy face.

Life quickly became bleak and gray. I was lost and confused. Down and out. I spent my days listening to Cat Power and Elliott Smith. Soul Asylum's Runway Train scored a 567 play count on my itunes. I upped the ante on my micro-brew consumption-- choosing to anesthetize myself from this cold, cold, beardless world. For holes are to donuts as Laura is to The Copstash Standard.

And then, from the dark depths of my beardless hell, the clouds opened up. A bright piercing light cracked through the sky. The headline read: 'Bend: Beard Town. As host to the Inagural International Beard and Mustache Championships...' My heart soared. A grin swept across my face that nearly swallowed my ears. The After 8. The Box Car. The Gringo. The Porn Star. Bring it on! If this wasn't a sign from God, I don't know what is. For this new-found knowledge all at once replaced the kick in my step, the twinkle in my eye, and the color to my day. It became immediately clear that I had been mistaken in wavering in my mighty beard love. And now, I was back, and with great fervor! A born again beard lover! For Laura is to beards as recovering addicts are to Jesus.

Now, in a sort of peace offering and greedy self exploitation, I would like to serve as a judge to this years competition. My journey with beards has been long and hard (that's what she said). Relevant to both my nature and nurture. Nature, in the way I am primally attracted to strapping muttonchops and nurture, through my paternal beard influence. For this, my beard faith is strong. And as a 28 year old female in search of my one beard love, I'd revel in the opportunity to be a judge. I raise my pint of deliciously Bend-brewed beer in cheers to the IB & MC. Pick me to judge!

I love Beards.

I love Beer.

I love Bend.