Manliness & Beards


But first, three stories about my late father.

When I was in my teens he severely sprained his right wrist. This was during the many years when every Saturday he would take my mom and grandmother shopping. (Neither my mom or grandma drove.) The first Saturday during his wrist injury my mother assumed she’d stay home that weekend and mentioned it to Dad. I’ll remember his reply forever. I was sitting just to his right when he said, “My wrist is going to hurt whether I take you to the mall or not. Let’s go.”

I was a teenager at the time, but I was smart enough to know I just saw an example of great manliness.

Fast forward 10 years. 

Dad comes home from taking Mom to the mall. He wasn’t much for shopping, so he’d typically either take a nap in the car or nurse a couple of beers for 2-3 hours in a tavern in the mall. This was one of the beer trips. Dad walks in the living room and is visibly shaken. He begins to tell my older brother and I about a woman at the bar who was hitting on him. The thought of this frightened and disgusted him. Now, in reality, I suspect she was just being an amicable bar patron. Still, his impression was that she was flirting and he was disgusted and afraid. He was not, “Yeah, I still got it” or, worse, “Got her digits”. No. His love for Mom was deep and eternal and anything that was a threat to that, even imagined, was to be loathed. At the time my older brother and I thought it was funny. Now, as a husband of one and father of seven I admire Dad even more. Manliness.

One more Dad story. Dad worked for the bus company for 20+ years. During this time he built a set of custom handrails (using ones scrapped from a bus) for the handicapped daughter of a family friend. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a story about this and, to my father’s surprise, told more about my dad and less about the young lady. I remember how incredibly uncomfortable that made my dad, as he thought the girl and his father were heroic, not him. Manly.

So what’s this have to do with beards and manliness?

For a few years, like you, I’ve been seeing on Facebook and elsewhere online a ton of pics of dudes with beards and lumberjack shirts.
Then, after about a year of these bearded lumberjacks, I see the response of “if you can’t change a tire or fell a tree, ditch the beard and shirt.”

Both miss the point.  Facial hair and clothes don’t make the man, but neither do tires and trees. Hair, clothing, tire changing and tree felling are, at most, symptoms or affectations of what a man should be. So if you want to beard up, beard up. Want to shave it all? Shave. Chop down a tree or trim a bonsai tree? Live it up.

Either way, the cause of manliness is, and always will be, character.

Toughness and selflessness.
Fidelity to your spouse.
Service and humility.

That’s some manly (and womanly) stuff right there.

I miss Dad. I wish he could have lived to have met my wife and my seven children, but he died too soon. Though I frequently fall short, I aspire to live up to his example.


Doc Dixon 

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