Monday, April 30, 2018

Bearded wonders

In April, a friend from Germany and I made a bike tour in the northeast along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and Great Allegheny Passage bike trail systems that run from DC to Pittsburgh. Our trek took us through pretty remote areas, like Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown, West Virginia. During an overnight in Frostburg, Maryland, my friend and I had a beer at Dantes Bar. All at once she tapped me on the shoulder and dragged me to the next room to point out a man sitting alone, drinking a pint and staring at his cellphone.

"What?" I said. "What is it?"

"The long hair and beard. What does it mean?"

She was referring to the man's long, bushy white hair and voluminous white beard. "All kinds of guys have long hair and beards," I told her. "I don't think it's any one particular group. In America, it has more to do with personal preference."

"Oh, but no one looks like that in Germany. I never see this," she said. She seemed to think the long hair and beards were a political symbol, like the Phrygian cap meant liberty to the French.

I couldn't prove it didn't represent a political statement, but I did find the Urban Beardsman for her ("Our Urban Beardsman blog explores topics for beardsman, as well as beyond the beard, including style, grooming, travel, community, and insight from the founder"). Check out this blogpost: "5 reasons long hair and beards can be found at the same bars." FWIW.

Once she'd pointed it out, I started noticing big beards everywhere.

These beards aren't scraggly. They look so lush in part due to product -- conditioners, oils and balms. Ever since, bearded wonders have been cropping up everywhere I look. Even at the Dayton Art Institute.

Painting by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1612).

Marble sculpture of Christ (attributed to Cristoro Solari 1468-1524)