By Curtis K. Shelburne
A gentleman by the name of Maynard Good Stoddard wrote an article recently for The Saturday Evening Post which my brother, for some reason, sent my way. It is entitled, “To Beard or Not To Beard.”
Mr. Stoddard says that one day he finally figured out why he had been pushed around, especially at home, for many years. It was, he says, because his chin lacked authority. Not, he writes, that he wants one of those “Jay Leno jobs,” but that he definitely needs something at least a bit more along that very distinctive line. It evidently occurred to him that, though chin augmentation through plastic surgery might be pricily prohibitive, whiskers are more or less free and do indeed change the character of a chin — or maybe the chin of a character. A research project on beards was begun.
First, he polled his wife. She’d rather “embrace a camel’s hair pillow than a face full of whiskers,” a feeling evidently shared by a Mrs. Abner Billings whose husband divorced her because she kept spraying his beard down with disinfectant and getting it in his eyes. The divorce court judge suggested “mowing the hay,” but Mr. Billings countered that the beard was more of a comfort to him than was Mrs. Billings.
According to Stoddard, “Beards have been causing domestic wars ever since wives discovered that whiskers could be mowed, shaven, or set on fire.”
Here’s more of Stoddard’s research.
It was Alexander the Great who first “shot down the beard,” ordering his soldiers to shave lest their manly chins provide the enemy with convenient handholds.
It seems that Louis VIII of France started a war with England that lasted 300 years by shaving his beard, a trimming that his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, dear lady, objected to. After their divorce, she married Henry II of England who had a beard he could “tuck into his belt on windy days.”
During the reign of Henry I, Serle, the bishop, termed the bearded gents of the Norman English court “filthy goats and bristly Saracens.”
According to Stoddard’s research, Peter the Great levied a tax on Russian beards. King Charles swept the points of his moustache upward and sported a beard shaped like downward flame. Edward II’s beard was curled into three ringlets. Edward III’s was long and patriarchal. Henry VIII’s was knotted. The Roman Emperor Hadrian grew one to cover his warts.
Beards. I’m pretty sure that God, unlike most wives, is neutral on the subject. What comes out of our hearts is far more important to him than what graces or disgraces, as the case may be, our chins.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at: