Letters from Ely - Stroke it

by Duane Behrens

Stroke It <BR><BR>One friend calls it "The Ely Witness Protection Program." If you look around, it often seems as if 75 percent of the adult males living and working in the Ely area wear beards. (Fortunately, that percentage is significantly less for the female side of the population.) <BR><BR>But why would anyone WANT to grow a beard? As Jane noted with some amusement, professional baseball players with a few days' growth may look handsome, while I look merely homeless. And that's where my beard is at the moment - the "homeless" phase. <BR><BR>Beards require only slightly less effort than a clean-shaven look. You still have to trim the top and bottom a bit unless you're actively seeking that Neanderthal look. And at some point you'll need to start shampooing the silly thing in the shower. <BR><BR>Beards catch the Velcro clasp on the top of your jacket. Extra effort with the napkin is required to keep it from collecting food from the morning's breakfast. And be prepared for the "Unca Dane, you SKWATCHY!" comments from the post-perambulator set. Once-affectionate wives often express similar sentiments in a variety of vocal and non-vocal ways.<BR><BR>There's no reason for it, really. Few religions require facial hair anymore. Sharp, safe, double-bladed razors have largely eliminated the razor cuts our fathers and grandfathers endured. A beard doesn't get you a first class seat on an airplane or a handicapped parking spot or a free latte with your dinner. So why do we do it?<BR><BR>Because we can.<BR><BR>Once every few years I'll let my beard grow out, if for no other reason than to remember why I don't wear a beard. I'll endure the teasing from the other dads at the ballpark (retorting that their lack of testosterone is not my problem). I'll pass by a mirror and be slightly shocked at the derelict looking back at me. I'll spend a few extra, painful moments undoing the chin strap on my motorcycle helmet. And I'll sit silent as O.C. tells me he'd rather have MOM drop him off at school this morning. <BR><BR>And the beard will grow, and it will look just as bad as the last time I grew it, and in a few weeks or months I'll suddenly have it off again. Ahhhhhh.. . . ! <BR><BR>And as always, I'll be thankful that my life moves along so smoothly and uneventfully, allowing something as silly as a beard to provide for a bit of diversion and entertainment.<BR><BR>Well. On the OTHER hand and for all you know, I and every other bearded male around here really COULD be part of a "witness protection program" - conceived, developed and administered in the remotest part of the most isolated county in the northernmost part of these United States as a holding pen for our most sinister sold-out sociopaths. <BR><BR>Try to avoid eye contact. <BR><BR>[ Duane may be reached at duanebehrens@cox.net ]