While watching the news on TV, I was shocked to see a brief video clip of David Letterman and Jon Stewart (two of my favorite comedians) at a USO event. I don't recall seeing them since they retired.
It wasn't shocking to see them together after their retirement, what was shocking was their appearance! It brought to mind an article I had read in the past few days about the discovery of a series of articles written by Walt Whitman in 1858 under the pseudonym Mose Velsor. In 13 weekly newspaper installments, Whitman wrote "Manly Health and Training" -- how to be a "real" man.
When I first read the article, I immediately forwarded it to my granddaughter Audrey and her love interest, Rob, who sports a lovely beard. You see, one of the articles Whitman wrote was about beards. The news item I read was an online NPR article, which included the audio. Audrey said they got a kick out of it as they listened to it over morning coffee.
In case you missed it, here is what Whitman had to say about beards:
"The beard is a great sanitary protection to the throat — for purposes of health it should always be worn, just as much as the hair of the head should be. Think what would be the result if the hair of the head should be carefully scraped off three or four times a week with the razor! Of course, the additional aches, neuralgias, colds, & etc., would be immense. Well, it is just as bad with removing the natural protection of the neck; for nature indicates the necessity of that covering there, for full and sufficient reasons." (I wonder what he would think of all the young men who shave their heads today?)
Of course, in Whitman's later years, his beard (and hair) were more on the order of Letterman's. In fact, Letterman told a funny story about someone mistaking him for Whitman. Not sure how true that is, but the resemblance is uncanny.
I got to thinking how beards seem to be cropping out everywhere nowadays. My older son, Craig, has sported a beard most of his adult years. He did shave it in order to look younger when applying for a new job. I had to admit he looked a lot younger clean-shaven, but I was happy to see the familiar fuzz back on his face -- even if it did make me look older.
The baby of the family, Matthew, has grown his own beard intermittently through the years. Usually, he waits until the colder winter months, as in this photo taken six months ago. I was shocked to see how much gray his beard now contains. The hair on his head remains black as coal, with very little, if any, gray. Hmmm. Matt's at the age now he may wish to look younger, too. Off with the beard? Or maybe a little touch-up?
All of this attention to beards brings to mind the latest heartthrob I've noticed on TV. I am a big fan of "The Good Wife". Julienna Margulies' love affair with "Jason", her firm's private investigator (who also holds a law degree - I think they put that in there for the elitist viewers who thought his occupation might be beneath her), makes me want her to run away with him. He -- and his beard -- would be hard for any woman to resist. Agree? (Come to think of it, he looks a lot like my son Craig!)
|(Jeffrey Dean Morgan)|
In researching the images and articles for this post, I ran across a series of naked photos of Whitman, taken when he had a full head of gray hair and beard. (And I have Safe Search on my computer!) This was a scholarly article, too. Needless to say, that was much more than I wanted to know about good old Walt.
Got a hirsute man in your life? According to Walt Whitman, that beard may keep him healthy. At least it will protect his neck.