Pat's View: Beard or Not?

By Pat Cashman

If Abe Lincoln was still alive, he’d be 208 years old---and really tired. Not only is Lincoln considered one of our greatest presidents, but he was also the first to do something else. Wear a beard. Not the most fascinating thing about him perhaps, but beards are intriguing in their own way.

Following Lincoln, only a few other presidents have had beards. The last was Benjamin Harrison---also called Benjamin Hairy-one, although not to his hirsute face. Harrison was five feet six inches tall, but with his beard appeared to be five feet six and an eighth.

Following Harrison, beards---at least on presidents---pretty much went out of style. Teddy Roosevelt had a moustache---and so did the guy who followed him, William Howard Taft. Taft had plenty of ear and nose hair too. And since he tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, Taft also had muttonchops---at least three times a week.
But since then, for almost a century, no president has had so much as a single sideburn. That’s good, because a single sideburn makes a face look unbalanced.

It would appear however that beards are making something of a comeback. Seems like every Hollywood hunk is walking around with them. A recent study group gathered data from thousands of women---and the result seemed to say that females think the sexiest men are those with heavy stubble. Guys with less stubble were pretty popular too---at least according to the study.

Perhaps unrelated to the study---after David Letterman quit show business, he grew a big bushy beard---either so no one would recognize him, or no longer confused him with Jay Leno.

After all, a beard is a great disguise for a man. Come to think of it, it’s pretty good for a woman too. It doesn’t do much for a baboon though.

The popularity of facial hair has varied through the centuries. Until the 4th century, men in Greece all wore beards. It is perhaps where the expression, “He sure has a Greecey beard,” came from.
But then, along came Alexander the Great who told his soldiers to shave so that enemy soldiers wouldn’t be able to grab ahold of their beards in battle. He also told soldiers with unusually hairy chests and backs to wear tighter-fitting shirts.

Later, beards came back into vogue in France---as did the word ‘vogue’---until Louis XIII became King. Louis decreed that since he didn’t have a beard, no one else should have one either. Never mind that the King was 8 years old at the time.

And speaking of being 8 years old, I was once---and still am---a big Superman fan. But even as a little kid, I could never figure out why nobody was able to figure out Superman’s secret identity. How could Lois Lane be so clueless?

Lois’s reasoning was: “Hmm. Clark has the same facial features as Superman. He’s exactly the same height, build---and his voice sounds identical. Oh, but wait a minute! Clark’s got glasses and Superman doesn’t. They MUST be different guys.”
C’mon Lois! Think!

As a kid, I found it entirely plausible that a guy could have come from another planet with super-powers. But I never believed that a solitary pair of glasses would fool anyone. Except, possibly, the lightly-regarded supervillan “Dr. Dim Bulb.”

No. If a guy like Superman really wanted to protect his secret identity--- a beard would be the only way to go.
It would be easy for someone with his array of superpowers to simply speed up his testosterone and almost instantly sprout facial hair. Then, whenever he wanted to switch back to his alter ego, he could shave at super-speed. And a guy like Superman would never need to worry about cutting himself. (And, yes, it is sad that I’ve actually thought this out.)

By the way, if Superman WAS a real person, I think he’d make a great president---bearded or not. But his electability might be a problem.

First, he was born on another planet---making him constitutionally ineligible.
Secondly, there’s the matter of the tights.

pat@patcashman.com
Pat was a longtime cast member and writer on KING 5’s Almost Live. He was also the announcer on Disney’s Bill Nye the Science Guy. And unlike Nye, Cashman thinks it would be possible for a guy with a cape to fly. Cashman is also a keynote speaker---and a fundraiser auctioneer---plus he co-hosts a weekly on-line talk show: Peculiarpodcast.com

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