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Sun, July 21

Beards can change history

"Beware of a woman with a beard and a man without " - Basque proverb.

Pogonotrophy! That word means the cultivating and trimming of a beard, mustache or sideburns. Didn't know that, did you? I didn't either until 48 hours ago.

Let's face the facts. Beards have played an important role in world history. Most men wore beards to protect themselves from the cold. Listen, owning your own beard was safer than snuggling with a random warm squirrel. Beards didn't bite or spit in you face!

Some men wore beards to intimidate their associates. Come to think of it; once I grew my beard, a lot more people agreed with my opinions. Just a coincidence? I think not.

Not only that, but beards were an effective padding against smites to the face. I wish I'd known that during my working life. All those corporate meetings would have been a lot more tolerable if I'd had the proper facial matting to muffle the blows.

It seems history and beards have long been brothers in arms, although Alexander the Great outlawed facial hair in his ranks. He feared a military disadvantage if enemies could yank his soldiers' beards.

Our first bearded president was Abraham Lincoln, but only because of 11-year-old Grace Bedell of New York. In a letter, she advised him to grow a beard to attract more votes. "All the ladies like whiskers..." she counseled. If young Grace hadn't taken an active interest in whiskers, who knows how American history might have been written?

Last year, a political action committee was created by a group called the Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy. The group supports candidates with beards who espouse policies that promise the country, "...a more lush and magnificent future."

Gillette, a foremost provider of men's grooming products, advises that if you decide to spend time behind a beard and/or mustache, you must select your style with care. For example, you can pick a gunslinger, royale, chevron or horseshoe mustache, or a Van Dyke, Balbo, petit goatee or circle beard among many other esoteric alternatives. Make a grooming statement that's right for you!

Now your mother probably told you not to think about growing a mustache or beard, right? Obviously, she didn't understand one of the simple pleasures of being a man; the ability to grow ones own facial shrubbery!

I decided at the tender age of ten that I would grow a mustache the nanosecond I came of age. As it happened, that nanosecond erupted at 21 during an army inspection in ranks. I was cruelly written up for an improper gig line. That demerit, in my humble opinion, was a monumental miscarriage of justice, so in protest, I launched my very first mustache forthwith. The fledgling mustache born on that parade ground back in 1969 has matured into a proud Van Dyke today, mostly gray, but still proud.

Did you know that a study from the University of South Wales reports men who wear beards are considered to be more attractive? Yes! Study authors Dixson and Brooks conclude that bearded men are "...more masculine, healthy and more likely to make good parents." Well, I'm suddenly feeling pretty darned good about myself!

If you become a bearded being, I have some solid advice for you: don't let your facial hair grow too long. Your beard is too long if you are frequently mistaken for a topiary project, you purchase your grooming implements from a tree-trimming merchant, or you find a nest of sparrows ensconced comfortably therein.

To comment, email Wil Williams at wilaugust46@gmail.com.

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