Posted by: wrmcnutt | July 6, 2009

Mom and Men’s Beards

This Thursday I’m off to Charleston, probably for the last time, as I go to scatter my Mom’s ashes.  As might reasonably be expected, Mom’s been on my mind this weekend.  There’s lots to be said about my Mom.  Many people would say that she was “strong willed.”  Others might say say “the incarnation of bloody-mindedness.”  It’s fair to say that my mother never, ever lost a fight until the day she died.  It may have looked like it, but a fight is not lost until it’s over.  And Mom was never done fighting.

But I’m wandering rather far afield.  One of the fights Mom never won outright was the Battle of Bill’s Mustache.  Mom hated facial hair on men.   Just despised it.  I remember when I showed up with a mustache for the first time.  She actually cringed.  Then she rolled her eyes and told me I looked ridiculous, and to shave it off.  In point of fact, I suffer from the Curse of the Baby Face.  While I may one day be grateful for the fact that I look between 10 and 15 years younger than I am, at least from the hairline down, when I was 20, it was not an advantage to look 12.  My fiance had just broken up with me, and in trying to work out what had gone wrong, I concluded that I needed to grow up.  I was still living at home and commuting to school.  I didn’t own my own vehicle.  I was a lifeguard.  So I left home, bought a motorcycle, and got a job as a computer operator.  And grew a mustache.  No point in being an adult if you don’t look like one.  In all the years since then, Mom never caved on the subject of my mustache, although she did eventually realize that I wasn’t going to budge on the subject, and quit harping on it.

I’ve recently come across a mystery series in which I can see my mother.  Amelia Peabody reminds me a great deal of  Mom.  This series of books is a series of mysteries set in the late Victorian/early Edwardian Era.  The earliest is set in 1884 and the last is set in 1920.  For the most part, the plots occur in Egypt, during the time that it was administered by the English.  The title character is a strong-willed, independent-minded female who insists on having her own way in the world.  The can generally wrench her immediate enviroment around to suit her, typically by sheer force of will.  And she hates facial hair on men.

Not My Dad - Just an Old Dude

I recall once seeing pictures of my Dad in a goatee.  Well, probably more of a Van Dyke, really.  Mom took one look at the picture and declared that that was the only time Dad had worn a beard in her knowledge, and that she could not wait to “get it off of him.  When I asked her about her why she was so hostile to men’s facial hair, she just claimed that “I want to know what ya’ll are hiding under there.”  Then I got familiar with the Amelia character.  Both women were all about independence.  About women being the equals of men under all circumstances.  And both hate facial hair.  The wicked delight that initially came up when Amelia got to shave off half of a gentleman’s beard in order to treat a facial wound was almost disturbing.

But after thinking about it for a while, I came to realize why Amelia hated beards so much, and why Mom had such a problem with them:

They can’t grow them.

No matter how hard they try.  No matter how many laws are passed, they won’t ever be able to grow one.

Nothing generates resentment like a sign on a clubhouse that says “No Girls Allowed.”

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  1. Loved this.. but some of us like them. My husband brings up the idea of shaving off his beard one day.. probably just to hear me protest. I bring up getting the gap between my two front teeth fixed someday for the same reason.

    • Oh – I know of plenty of women who like beards, my wife included. But Mom sure hated ’em.

  2. Oh – I don’t know about that. I know about as many women with beards and moustaches as I know men with breasts.

    All it takes for a man to grow breasts is a few shots of estrogen. All it takes for a woman to grow a beard is a few shots of testosterone. We are remarkably equal in that respect.

    And a man without a moustache is like porridge without salt.

  3. Ahhh, Amelia. I can take or leave facial hair because it really depends on the face carrying it around. I have loved the Amelia books since I was given the first one as a college grduation present – but you probably already knew that about me. 😀

  4. […] Mom and Men’s Beards […]

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