A Christmas beer with a beard

Credit: BBC

Had a beer with a  beard  the other day  to celebrate the relentless commercial  onset of Christmas.   The beard was my old friend’s familiar trademark  and I told him once more  how much it suited him.

Over the years I’d seen it mature from wispy goatee to bushy maturity, from an indeterminate grey grey-brown to a credible imitation of  Santa’s  whiter than white version,  with all the jollity it was associated with.

Many years earlier, neither my friend nor I  had beards. Hair yes, down to our shoulders, but beards had  yet to  come into fashion.  Now they are everywhere as boomers desperately try to extend their youth.

They sport  lusty beards, trim hair as close as possible to their scalps  or shave it  off, trying to make baldness their friend.  You can fool some of the people most of the time this way because it remains pseudo-fashionable.

What you can’t do is fool the very young.    My daughters once teased  in front of  my three year old grand-daughter about  having no hair.   They  asked  her what  she thought had happened to it. She  stared at me clinically, then  told them: “The wind blew it away!”  As if to compensate, she added: “But he does have some  hair on the sides”.

My friend and I reminisced as most of the  people at this reunion of sorts were doing.  It wasn’t so much about stories  we had covered ages ago. It was about beards and the impact of the full bodied beard I’d grown on a European  holiday.

In  1988 our family  was going  home and on the way,  landed at  Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport. The era of the threat  posed by ‘the other’ had dawned and I was clearly  one of those. As I  walked into the screening area,  an armed policeman glared at me – then reached for his holster, though he didn’t draw his gun.

I passed through the screening  without  problems but the incident shook me as much as  the Police officer.  The first thing I did when we reached the hotel was  shave off my beard, though for old time’s sake  I left on my moustache. Who could possibly object to that? Indeed.

Our next stop was Athens.  There, one of the Security officers saluted me… then another. First thing I did after I checked into the hotel was to shave off my moustache.

Moral of the story: Not all beards are equal. But mos, well, they not only get the nod, but also a  salute!

Share this:
Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.