Surprisingly, it turned out slightly less horrific than I imagined.

The instant the clock strikes midnight on Friday night and the calendar turns to December 1st, my No Shave November "partnership" with Deaconess Hospital will be over. Meaning that I am no longer confined by the parameters of the deal that have prevented me from putting a razor to my face for the past 30 days.

As I said from week one, my hopes for growing, at the very least, a respectable beardwere quite low. Based on past experience, genetics and I don't get along real well when it comes to growing facial hair, or any body hair for that matter. However, the end result has been a present surprise. Here's a week-by-week, side-by-side progression of how my personal beard-ageddon has gone.

From left to right, week's 1 - 4

To give you a better idea of where I started and ended (although technically, as of this writing, I'm not done-done for another few days), here's a side-by-side of the beginning and the end.

Simply dashing, right?

As you can see, there are a few wild hairs pulling away from the rest of the pack, but overall, I don't think it's terrible. Granted it's not nearly as good as some of the other men who joined in the fun this month. Several of them have twice as much beard in half as much time as I do. Does that make them more of man than me? Yes. But I promise you, they aren't the only one's.

Back on point, there was a time when the mustache ended at the corner of my mouth, leaving a blank slate between that spot and where the hair on my chin started, but as you can see somewhere along the line, those previously missing follicles woke up and decided to stretch their legs a bit.

My cheeks aren't as patchy as I expected either. The one other time I tried growing a beard, the upper sections of my cheeks were so patchy, I had to trim the whole thing to the point where it left me with a slightly thicker than pencil-thin beard along my jawline.

As pleasantly surprised I am with the progress, I'm not fooling myself into believing that this beard will go down as one of history's greatest, like say Abraham Lincoln, Tom Selleck, or Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart, nor has it progressed well enough where I feel compelled to leave the radio biz, take up an ax and venture into the forests of the world to begin a lucrative career as a lumberjack. Although flannel is mighty comfy.

Two weeks ago when it was unbelievably itchy, I told anybody who would listen, and even those who wouldn't, that come Saturday, December 1st, once my commitment to No Shave November was over, the facial hair was coming down. But now, I'm reconsidering. My wife and kids are OK with it, and as I think I've clearly stated here, I don't think it looks as bad as I initially thought it would. My biggest concern will be maintaining it. While it's not terrible, it's not thick and full, leaving me almost no room for error. One over zealous trimming and I'm going to have to shave the whole thing. Or maybe I'll lose the sides and rock the goatee for a little while. Decisions, decisions, but I still have a few days to figure that out. What do you think I should do?