To beard, or not to beard.
That is the question every guy asks himself at least once in his life as he stands staring into the shower-steamy-misted mirror.
I never did the beard thing before until last month on the second day of vacation when I figured, why bother shaving?
And it took off from there.
I attribute my life of beardlessness to the dearth of beard role models in my youth.
I grew up in the era of the clean-shaven.
All the menfolk in my hometown, most of whom worked in the cement and steel mills, were beardless.
A couple of holdovers from the bearded 19th century, though, sat around Main Street on benches, old geezers coughing up 80 years of cement dirt from their clouded lungs.
There was the one exception back in 1962 when the town celebrated its 225th anniversary, and all the men, except my father, went crazy and grew outrageous beards that would turn anyone off to the beard concept for life.
A different exception to the bizarrely bearded was the pastor of our German Reformed Church, who kept his tidy beard when all the others shaved theirs, creating a minor stir throughout the congregation.
I believe the word beatnik was uttered a few times, even though the closest anyone in our town came to a beatnik was Maynard G. Krebs on television.
And speaking of television, all the heroes of our ubiquitous Westerns were smooth-faced, except for the quirky characters with names like Wishbone, Festus or Wooster.
I guess I’ll know that the beard has gone too far when people start calling me Flapjack or Sagebrush.
Now that I have a beard, I’ve been suffering from the Volkswagen syndrome: when we bought a VW, all I seemed to see on the road were other V-Dubs.
Everywhere I look now, I see guys with beards.
However, I may find it difficult to go back to a beardless state.
I keep thinking of one of the better Shakespearean insults.
In “Much Ado About Nothing,” Benedick refers to young Claudio as Lord Lackbeard.
Ow! Those Shakespearean barbs sting the worst.
My favorite biblical beard story involves the lesser known kiss of betrayal.
Joab, King David’s most ruthless general, fell out of David’s favor after Joab was involved in the death of David’s rebellious son, Absalom.
David chose Amasa, Absalom’s general in the rebellion, to pursue another rebellious faction of Israelites led by Sheba, son of Bichri.
But Joab caught up with Amasa on the road by the great stone in Gibeon.
While approaching Amasa, Joab leaned forward, and his short sword fell to the ground.
Joab picked it up with his left hand and held it surreptitiously in the folds of his garments.
Joab greeted Amasa, asking, “Is it well with you, my brother?”
Joab’s right hand grasped Amasa’s beard to kiss him, and Amasa, distracted by Joab’s gesture of friendship, didn’t see the sword, which Joab plunged into his belly, spilling his innards onto the ground (2 Samuel 20:8-10).
Note to self:
No beard long enough for some dude to grab.
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Contact Bill Uhrich: 610-371-5090 or [email protected]