Beards seem to be in fashion again.
Younger men tend to have shorter beards than older men. In some portions of the younger set it is fashionable even to appear merely unshaven for a few days. One sees advertisements, usually for women’s apparel and accessories, which show young men with three-day, untrimmed beards hanging around attractive young women looking, variously, concupiscent, unfulfilled and depressed. They usually have dark beards. I guess those with blond beards are too happy and satisfied looking.
Not too many older men currently have the long beards sported by the generation of my great-grandfathers, contemporaries who never knew each other: Konstantin Alexander Pavellas and Asbury Harpending, Jr.
The following generation of men, around the 1900s, preferred waxed mustaches which, for me, have too much vanity associated with them, as shown by my two grandfathers, Alexander K. Pavellas and George Pagonis:
I think the most attractive of beards worn by a public figure, currently, is that of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which is on a par with that of my friend George Wegler.
I see, everywhere in Stockholm, men of a certain age displaying beards in the style of Ben and George, and I feel a kinship with these fellows, especially those with partially or fully-silvered beards. This is how I have now grown my beard, as best as I can with a few little baldish spots on my right side.
I grew my first beard upon achieving, at age 38, my goal of becoming the chief executive of a community hospital. This was in the City of Modesto, California, in the Great Central Valley. I shaved this beard after a while, thinking it not reflecting the inner Ron. Twenty-two years later I visited the land where three of my grandparents were born, Greece, and grew what I then considered a Greek beard, sort of unruly, but with the area under my nose, my philtrum, scraped clean.
When visiting Afghanistan in 2005 as a volunteer hospital consultant, I once again grew a beard and, to appease some remaining vanity, shaved my philtrum. I have since shaved it all, and now have regrown my beard similar in length to what you see below, but without bothering with the area under my nose.
I feel, now, part of a fraternity of older men who are comfortable within their own skin and hair. It is a great pleasure to admire the beards of others. My only mild regret is that I never had the courage to let all my head hair grow out ‘naturally’ as did two people I admire, in the 1970s: