Robb is a technician for Cox Communications, where he’s worked for 16 years. The 1988 Portsmouth High School graduate has been married to his wife Robin, a former Tiverton resident, for 18 years. They have three sons: Matthew, 17; Nathan, 16; and Jason, 12.
We sat down for a chat with Robb and his wife over a beer at Tremblay’s in Island Park, where they first met 20 years ago, shortly after he got out of the Marine Corps.
“I was on a blind date with her friend and it didn’t work out,” he said.
“He was clean shaven then,” added Robin, who said she likes the way her husband looks — with or without the beard.
On beard contests: “The first one I ever did was in Rhode Island. Narragansett Beer had one in Providence and I took first place in that. We went to Las Vegas (in November 2012) for the National Beard and Mustache Championship. I was literally a small fish in a big pond. There were beards down to their knees.”
How do the contests work? “They have different categories. They have natural, they have freestyle. I’m in the full-beard natural (category). It’s got to be over 12 inches in most contests. They measure it from the chin. This is the longest it’s ever been.”
How long have you been growing it? “This is four years from being clean shaven.”
When did your beard days begin? “I remember having a beard contest when I was a sophomore in high school. ‘Hey, let’s see who can grow the longest beard.’ That was back in ’85.”
Were your friends always asking you to make a liquor store run? “Ha ha, no.”
Is it still growing? “It stopped for a while, then all of a sudden it starting growing again. Everybody has a different ‘terminal length’ — the point where it’s going to stop growing. I know people who have beards down to their knees and I know people who have beards that are younger than mine, but longer. “
How can you make a beard grow faster? “It all depends on how you eat, genetics. I don’t do it, but gelatin and stuff like that and special vitamins can make your hair grow longer.”
Isn’t it more work to maintain? “Hey, I don’t know how you guys shave every day! I wash up, I dry, I’m done. I was in the military and I hated shaving.”What about eating? “With the mustache, it’s harder. But I’m a professional.”
Do you get a lot of stupid questions? “What I always hear are ZZ Top, ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Yosemite Sam. Or they automatically assume that I’m a Red Sox fan. I don’t think I’ve watched a baseball game once in my entire life. I had a beard before the Red Sox won the World Series.”
How do people react to you in public? “It’s a good conversation piece and I meet new people every day. I go to people’s houses to fix a problem and they say, ‘Hey, nice beard.’ It kind of breaks the ice and then it’s easier to talk to people. We went to a Providence Bruins game the other day and they had us up on the Jumbotron.”
At what point does one decide to cut it off? “When you get it caught in your zipper.”
So you think you’ll shave it off at some point? “Now I can’t cut it, because nobody will know who I am!”