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Beards of a Feather Flock Together - By Rebecca Wicks

An imported magazine arrived on my desk last week, with a picture of Alan Jackson on the cover. His moustached mouth was curved seductively into a grin as he posed, leaning up against a haystack� probably. It was out of the shot so I couldn’t tell it was a haystack really, but I imagined it would be. I bet he likes haystacks a lot. It made me want to pinch his cheeks and snuggle up against his face. I’d be safe there, in the light of his hairy smile. I bet he smells like freshly reaped hay. I bet he has shirts in many shades of beige to compliment the golden brown of that facial masterpiece. I daydreamed about it for a while.

Something about men with moustaches has been strangely appealing to me since I moved to Dubai, and maybe as I’ve entered my late-twenties - even though I’ve never really been a fan of facial hair in any form. I had a teacher at school once who hated facial hair so much that she used to pencil in her own eyebrows. Well� I thought it was because she hated it, but I learned slightly later that Mrs McManus had some weird disease, because her other hair fell out too. I felt bad about that.

My friend Elizabeth, back in New York, had an ex in town once called Glenn, who had a chin that would make even the proudest beard-keeper weep. This beard was amazing. This beard was the longest, most wiry, most incredible example of extreme masculinity I have ever seen. Other facially inferior men would stop in the streets, beard-envy brewing in their eyes as he strolled on by in oblivion. Glenn was the beard. It became more than a part of him.

Elizabeth would often talk about the Glenn she used to know; the smile she used to love, the smooth skin of his cheeks that once would glow. Glenn would nod as he sipped his pint next to her, remembering the days when he too could look in the mirror and see his face. But my, how he loved his new look. Right there at the table, as she mourned the man she missed, he would twist clumps of his beard into little points that stayed there of their own accord when he let them go. He would stroke this hairy monstrosity into shapes like a pet he’d been training for years, and Elizabeth would occasionally reach out into its masses, hoping for a part of it; the real Glenn, like the relentless lady who lost her man to the tramp.

When Glenn left New York we missed his beard. People would no longer have as much reason to talk to us in bars. You should have heard the conversations � ”So, my friend, how long have you been growing yours?”, “Do you find your pillow gets sweaty in the night when you sleep on your stomach?”

Beards follow beards it seems. Beards of a feather flock together, perhaps.

Glenn kind of ruined it for other people with beards though. Even to this day, surrounded by beards at every turn, I haven’t seen a man (or woman) who could top that thing. Back in New York, it really wasn’t worth anyone even trying. If a man was to say “Hey, ladies, do you like my beard? I’ve been growing it for two months”, any girl who’d been a part time traveller in Glenn’s thirteenth month facial expedition would have had to shake her head, shrug her shoulders and say “Sorry, I’m not interested. I’ve seen ‘beard’ in its truest form and I’ll accept no imitations.”

I’ve never really had a close encounter with a big beard, personally. For a long time after the whole Mrs McManus tragedy, I equated facial hair to a feeling of uncertainty, but thanks to Glenn and the men around me here, I’m only just starting to re-evaluate my opinions. They’re nice to look at alright. I think, maybe, it’s a comfort thing with me, too. As I approach old-age, I’m attracted to people who make me feel comfortable and many bearded people are associated with such feelings. Santa Claus, of course is the main one. Then there’s my oldest friend Dave’s dad (you won’t know him), and there’s one more... our heavenly father himself. So, hmmm,... maybe it’s more an inner peace thing I need to find, rather than a piece of beard.

Alan’s still looking mighty fine, though.

Posted: 09 July 2008

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