Philopogon

Julian II, a.k.a. Julian Augustus, Emperor of Rome, better known as Julian the Apostate and my personal folk hero, was the last pagan Roman Emperor.  He also had a beard.  After enough people gave him guff for it, he wrote Misopogon (‘Beard-hater’), a diatribe against the Antiochenes.  (Short version:  he’d expected the hardcore Christians of Antioch to embrace him.  Like most of his Empire, they didn’t.  He was pissed.)

Okay, fine.  Like Julian, I am bearded.  What is interesting is that to the young, it registers me elder.  This evening I was at a going-away party for an education executive leaving to take up a higher position.  He was a Coug.  For those who do not know Washington colleges, that means Washington State University, rival of the University of Washington, my much-loved alma mater.  His daughter had seen the light and was attending UW.  She and I exchanged old times/new times stuff for a while (and I’m glad her father wanted better things for her; speaks volumes about him).

(Seriously, my host was a fine gentleman and a very bright fellow whose guests were fun, funny and intelligent.  He offered great food and drink, prominently featuring cheeses from the WSU Creamery.  A salute to him and to delicious dining, and full respect to the value of land grant educational institutions that make foodieism possible.  Any city slicker dumb enough to make fun of food production, while savoring gourmet this and artisan that, is effete and idiotic at once. )

The question arose as to Deb’s age, and the young lady guessed many years low.  In my case, she guessed three years high.  I’m not sensitive about how I look, which is a wise stance in 50ish fat, balding, salt-and-pepper old guys.  When I laughed, she said:  “The beard makes you look wise.” (Tell my nephew that; maybe he’ll pay attention to me.)

Interesting observation.  I would like to hear from readers, especially women, since the beard is a fairly defining masculine aspect.  Does a heavy, silvery beard make a man seem wise? When you see a heavy beard on a man, what does it evoke?

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4 thoughts on “Philopogon”

  1. It’s a great question, and I suspect beards evoke pretty specific things for people. For me, beards don’t so much evoke a characteristic as a time: winter. My dad works outside, and he grows his beard at first snow and then shaves it off in spring. He is definitely wise, but he’s that way year-round so I don’t so much associate it with the beard. I do remember when my siblings were little and he would have his great spring shave, they would shriek in fear because they didn’t recognize him without it.

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    1. Interesting, Holli. I know a number of men who beard up for winter. I’ve never really felt that mine gave me much face protection, but I’m pretty resistant to cold to begin with. The funniest time with it was the time I got mistaken for Santa. In my baseball uniform. Covered with all the filth and sweat of catching nine innings in an eastern Washington midday July ballgame.

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  2. Depends on the type of beard. Anyone who wears a soul patch is automatically designated as “unwise”. Unkempt beards are placed in the lazy/hippie category. I try not to judge just on appearances – as they can be deceiving – I prefer to wait till someone opens their mouth before I judge them wise/unwise 😉

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