Friday was the last day of work for me for 9 days. I’ll be joining my brothers on the fire department hockey team and we’ll take a trip to Orlando, Fla., competing in a public safety tournament, where I expect we’ll have our asses handed to us once again. The prospect of getting out of single digit temperatures in Missouri, away from the usual parental responsibilities, and enjoying some good times on ice pales when compared with the real reward of a week away from the firehouse:
THE FREEDOM TO GROW A BEARD
Although the Constitution doesn’t specifically lay out protections with regards to beard growth, I have it on good authority that the Founding Fathers were mightily concerned with regards to facial hair freedoms. Most modern-day fire departments choose to ignore this basic, fundamental (mostly implied) Constitutional right, all under the guise of “professional appearance” and safety issues with regards to breathing apparatus face pieces. “Scoff”, says I. While you out there are sleeping the night away with manly beards keeping your necks warm and snug, those of us in the fire service suffer the indignities of a nude chin (or, chins, as the case may be).
And for one glorious week, I shall join you people, and celebrate this most American of privileges. Many years ago, I enjoyed a rather full and disgusting beard which, when combined with my shaved head, led to muted suggestions that I was a felon. Shockingly, I was single for the duration of this period. Then came a career in government service and with it the disappearance of follicles of greatness upon my mug. I’ve missed it ever since.
Still think a beard is anything less than a hallmark of superior character? Let’s examine these 3 distinguished characters in bearded history, then I’ll let you decide.
- Abe “The Babe” Lincoln. You may have heard of him. His striking beard, also known as the “Illinois Tickler”, served to not only distinguish him as the first president to have the clankers to sport a beard, but also was the inspiration for the modern day Amish-chic so popular in the upper Ohio Valley. This beard oozes power and charm; Abe was said to have trimmed it with an axe, so as to intimidate would-be secessionists. Voted “Most Likely To Unite A Nation During A Tumultuous Period In American History” by Springfield High School class of 1819, Lincoln later credited his beard with being the sounding board for all of his wartime strategies; “I could not have done it without the ‘Tickler'”, he’s rumored to have said at a cocktail party with fellow former prairie-lawyers.
- Tired of all the pressure that came with the title of “People Magazines Most Beautiful Man Since The Dawn Of Time”, a one Mr. Brad Pitt decided to draw attention away from his chiseled good looks by joining the Bearded Underground. This strategy was brilliant; instead of ooh-ing and ahhh-ing and offering their collective bodies at the Altar Of Brad, the public would be forced to contend with his acting skills, formidable as they are. While every gossip rag, website and coherent female was busy lamenting his choice to cover his mug with glorious, unkempt hair, Pitt went on to make such badass films as Snatch and the Oceans Series, all while secretly building up a private army of children from various nations. My well placed sources tell me the first targets that his military complex intends to invade are E! Television and, coincidentally, People Magazine.
- Jesus Christ. Lamb of God. Light of the World. God Manifest In The Flesh. You know who I’m talking about. If the Savior of all mankind thought it was hip to sport the beard, how can it be wrong? And I challenge you, faithful and fallen alike, to find an image of the original Holy Roller without the facial hair. From likenesses that appear on waffles & toast to the most sacred houses of worship, The Seed Of Abraham is always sporting the chin hairs (not counting his time in the manger). I don’t think I could get a stronger advocate for beardification. Now, you may want to step aside, since I’m sure this unauthorized endorsement comes with a lightning bolt with my name on it.
So there you have it. Abe Lincoln, Brad Pitt & Jesus Christ Of Nazareth. These three men all enjoyed the freedoms of facial hair, and I am beside myself in anticipation of joining the ranks of the Bearded Macho Faithful.
One defined a country, one defined cinematic success and one defined the salvation of the faithful; to NOT grow a beard at this time seems like I’d be spitting on all that it means to be a genuine man.
My beard and I look forward to the trip.