About My Beard
It’s MY beard! It’s MY face. It’s MY head. When I was a child, and up to age 16 I would get a flat top or what was commonly referred to as a crew cut every spring when school let out for Summer Vacation.
By September my hair would grow back in. Most of my uncles wore crew cuts. The idea behind it was ease of maintenance (year round) but especially comfort in simmering summer weather. The “crew cut” originated some time in the ’40’s or early ’50’s with competitive college sculling or rowing “crews”. Early on, the hair style was considered a radical fad – a thing about which I was completely unaware.
In our elementary and high schools we had dress codes of sorts, another thing we were pretty much oblivious to, but we generally conformed to a common hygienic standard. In those days we were taught personal hygiene, good posture, respect for authority, patriotism and so forth. But by my senior year in high school I’d been negatively affected by dirty politics which made school seem rather pointless and I was more than antsy to get out. At that somewhat rebellious stage in my life I decided to just let my hair grow. And truth be told, I was, like everyone else, under pressure from the fashions of the time, e.g. The Beatles.
Pity me, my blonde hair was far too wavy front to back to style after Elvis Presley’s pompadour with a “duck’s ass” or the Beatles casual helmets. My hair formed tight, almost kinky waves, and the waves on either side of my head broke this way and that and the best I could do is part it down the middle just to compromise. Parting my hair (on either side) would just leave my head looking lopsided and really odd.
In my 18th year I was drafted and, while undergoing Basic Training (BCT) I, or rather we trainees, were not allowed facial hair – or ANY hair at all. We were required to get haircuts once a week (and pay for them ourselves) and shave every day – and for some of us, even twice a day. During Basic we were bald skinheads. We were shorn like sheep in hurried assembly-line fashion. I remember one poor soul bleeding profusely from a scalp wound after being brutally stabbed with an errant electric shear. Shaving was, for the most part, letting the blood flow – scraping off newly erupted acne and yesterday’s scabs.
Afterward, for the most part, we were still harassed skinheads, but we were allowed a modest mustache. The irony being, by the time I turned 19 and came home from the Vietnam War I still couldn’t even grow a respectable mustache.
At the time the whole country was abuzz about “The Great Mens’ Hair Controversy” any way. The Army of course, had their reasons to oppose long hair and beards as did (and still do) employers.
We all have our own biases. Which brings me to one of my favorite expressions I picked up while in the Army:
“Opinions are like assholes – everybody’s got one.”
And mostly, uninformed.
A mustache, a beard, long hair on men, (throw in some tattoos) and you’ve got the makings for a strong case of discrimination. I digress in saying that, so long as a surplus of labor is maintained, discrimination, no matter how petty, can and will be both exercised and enjoyed.
After my military service I let my hair grow, even dallied, if only briefly, with mustache wax. (I’d rather have leftovers in the old “soup strainer”)
In dating I quickly discovered that half the women liked my beard and the other half didn’t. It was a toss-up defaulting to my own discretion. It is my face after all. If you don’t like my beard you can come over to my house and give me a shave every morning.
I will say that women who hold a strong opinion either way tend to be control freaks.
I’ve never enjoyed the daily blood-letting anyway. And, speaking of blood-letting, the manly art of barbering as a profession has pretty much gone by the board largely due to feminism and HIV/AIDS. Charlie Brown’s father was said to be a barber. “Barber” or “barbering” used to be masculine terms and a worthy profession allowing a man sufficient income to support a wife and children; but no more. No more shaves, hot towels and facials along with a carefully done haircut, no. Today we have women hairstylists, greedy, bitter, harried, often divorced, man-hating shrews renting barber chairs from even greedier corporate franchisees; giving bad haircuts to innocent victims. Obviously, I haven’t had a good haircut in decades.
In a perfect world I’d frequent a barber shop as in the days of yore and enjoy being pampered a little and always looking my best, but that is not to be.
Some ethnic groups have little or no facial or body hair. Is it right – is it wrong? Is it good – is it evil? Is it superior or is it inferior? Or is it just poor human judgement?
Given my personal history and the idea that it was made pretty much illegal for me to work or get gain, I enjoy what little freedom I’m given and thus let my hair and beard grow just as it pleases me so to do.
I do not obsess over such things as some people do. It is a mere coin-toss whether you’re born a man or a woman.
“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” – Matt. 10:30
So if God numbers the hairs on your head – Who am I to argue against God? I think if I were naturally bald I would handle it with better grace than some men. So my hair is (or was) wavy,
“That which is crooked cannot be made straight. . . . .” -Eccl. 1:15
Some are obsessed. They struggle their whole lives vainly and futilely against God’s own creation, never accepting the hand they were dealt. They spend vast fortunes on hair dyes, toupees, cosmetic surgery, wrinkle cream, shoe lifts, tummy tucks, contact lenses, breast enlargement, penis enlargement – all-in-all chasing after some vague physical ideal or the eternal Fountain of Youth. Vanity. Futility.
It’s MY head; it’s MY face; and it’s MY beard!
Can you remember a time when you were in a hurry to grow up? Now would be a good time to start.
Over the years my hair and beard have gone through gradual changes in both color and texture – only the length was ever under my control.
It was in that period (a number of years ago) when I was more fully enjoying the default freedom of saving money by not getting a bad corporate haircut that I wore a 2½ years-long salt and pepper ponytail and very long and full beard that I was pressed into service by a neighbor lady to portray the august and much beloved saint:
But that is a story for another time.