George Carlin used to do a routine about beards versus whiskers. When I was a teenager I found it hysterically funny. George’s position was that beards were un-American. After all Joseph Stalin had a beard.  Whiskers on the other hand were as American as apple pie. Gabby Hayes had whiskers.
Publicity photo of Gabby Hayes (left) and Roy ...
Publicity photo of Gabby Hayes (left) and Roy Rogers (right) from the early 1940s. Hayes also had his own children’s television program, The Gabby Hayes Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*side-note* I wonder if anyone remembers the actor George ‘Gabby’ Hayes? Comic “side-kick” to Roy Rogers and John Wayne (especially when Wayne was making his skid-row ‘oater’s’) He disappeared from the silver screen around the late 40’s early 50’s.

I have a beard and have had one off and on for years. The reason for having a beard has changed, but, I still grow one on a regular basis. Now I generally acquire it during the winter months. It helps to keep my chin warm and it gives me the illusion of feeling warmer during those long dark cold winter days.

When I was younger, every time I grew my beard, I felt that it made me look an odd mixture  of distinguished, debonair, older, and somewhat wiser. In those days my beard grew much darker. More black than the dark brown hair that adorned my head. It was also much easier to maintain.

Now that I’m older, it is a much different story altogether.

My beard now is multi-coloured. Grey, silver, white, a hint of red, and yes, black. I have been told that my beard now makes look like a badger. I’m afraid I have to agree. My ‘beard-of-many-colours’ is also much harder to maintain. The white, silver and grey hairs are rebels. They grow faster than the black hair and tend to behave like wild bramble bushes that stick out all over. If I skip one day of trimming, my beard starts to look remarkably like old Gabby Hayes’s whiskers. Of course that will never do.

Whiskers, you see, appear to have gone out of fashion. I do think that most women, however, would disagree. Most women don’t appear to like facial hair of any kind.  At any rate, I think that whiskers have gone out of fashion because I’ve not heard the term for years. I literally cannot remember the last time I heard anyone refer to facial hair as whiskers.

It’s a shame that referring to beards as whiskers has fallen by the wayside. Because whiskers always sounded  more kind and gentle than the stentorian image of the beard.

My daughter maintains, though, that my beard makes me look kinder and somewhat less fierce…nicer I suppose. I always reply that it just makes me look older now that I have such a prevalent amount of ‘lighter’ hair in it. It also make me look like a badger which I kind of like, despite making me worry about crossing roads and giving me a bit of a self-image problem.

But regardless of looking like a  kind old  badger, I re-grow my beard every winter. I value the warm chin and illusion of overall warmth it gives me. I could shave it off to lose a scant few years in my appearance, but, what good does it do.

I would much rather look older and feel warmer than look younger and feel like I’m freezing my butt off. And that is the main reason I know I’m physically older and to a degree mentally older.

I don’t care how I look as long as I’m comfortable.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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