Admiral David Dixon Porter

Watching the American League Championship Series, it is tough to get past all the facial hair. My wife says it reminds her of watching a Civil War movie.

She doesn’t understand.

Beards are a man’s way of bonding with other males, without getting too close. It is the body hair equivalent of chest bumping. It hails back to caveman days, I think, when the amount of fur on your face indicated where you sat on the evolutionary scale. Lots of hair: Mammoth hunter. Not much hair: Liberace. You tell me which one you would rather be.

Major League Baseball has embraced the playoff beard phenomenon by creating an interactive web page. You get to blend your photo with the beard of a famous playoff baseball player. Today’s was Mike Napoli’s beard, affectionately known as “The Siesta.” I gave it a shot, then added a little gray to make it more indicative of my senior status. It came out looking like this:


It looks better on him.

Back a few decades ago, in an attempt to be cool, the Navy allowed Sailors to wear beards again. The official explanation given by the Navy for discontinuing the practice again (in 1984) was to allow a better seal for gas masks, and for good order and discipline. But we all knew the real reason was because they looked dorky. Not dorky on everyone, mind you, but on enough Sailors that it was getting downright embarrassing. I happened to be one of those. Here is a picture of me in a full beard.


I know.

Those who couldn’t grow full beards had a tendency to continue trying long after it became obvious that it would never happen. They can be classified in the broad category of pirates, because that is what they looked like. They nurtured the few, sad follicles on their chins and walked about the ship with a swagger that belied the tragic reality that everyone but them could see.

As for me, I recognized the truth early on and began shaving again. That was a long time ago, and I have maintained a smooth face ever since. I discovered that I can still bond, that I am confident in my appearance, and that I know who I am.

I am Liberace.


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  1. Well said. Have you ever shown her the Cruise Book? I suspect that Ferguson and Mayer would look close to Civil War characters. Now, the few times I think about growing even my mustache it’s so gray that I give up. M

  2. During the days of the beards we had an EW1 that grew a massive beard BEFORE he transferred to the USS Saratoga. He kept it trimmed, maybe I should say shaped, to look neat and always kept himself, and the beard, clean. One day some of the EW’s had eaten breakfast and was heading to the shop when we heard a loud scuffle going on in our security space. When we got the door open Ted was sitting top of a guy none of us recognized asking how he got into the shop! Turns out that the EW1 had been greeted by an Admiral on the pier and told that his beard looked fantastic but it was longer than 1″. He was ordered to trim it. Not being adept at trimming the beard to a short length he totally messed it up and shaved clean. Nobody recognized him – AND he had a double (or triple) chin! I never tried, I couldn’t grow a full beard until I was well into my 49th year. Now I can’t grow one because I work in the Oil and Gas industry and you have to be clean shaven for wearing the masks for breathing.

  3. Those were the days! I remember attending an admin school at Keesler AFB just after the new beard reg went into place, the guys in my class who had a beard had to shave ’em off, yet the Coasties on base didn’t. I’ll never forget the red headed Coastie who walked by at noon chow and the looks he got from these classmates! We gals got a good laugh outta that.

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