The beard that I’ve worn for most of my life started out it’s career as a mustache when I was 18 . I was working part time at Redman Van and Storage . I worked with the warehouseman , Roy , inside the furniture warehouse and out on the yard where the trucks came in . Up at the front of the place facing the street were the offices , full of guys ( one woman ) wearing suits , who parked their GTO’s and red sports cars out back . They’d walk through the warehouse on their way to and from their alter egos , holding their breaths , I think , hoping not to pick up any grit or slime on the way , because those suits were expensive .
After I’d worked there for a time , anonymous notes began appearing , tacked to the walls near the loading dock and against the freight elevator . The author spoke in brief angry phrases about dirty hippies and Communists , and red-blooded Americans . I was so dumb then that Roy had to clue me in . I was no hippie and I was no Communist and I was no dirtier than I had to be working in the warehouse around the furniture , so Roy had to tell me what’s what .
” They’re about you ” Roy said . Really ? Dirty hippies ? Red-blooded Americans ? Evidently I was cast as the former , not the latter . Because of the mustache .
” The difference between a tart , a pie , and a quiche are a blur “.
Roy was my buddy , but I think he knew the person who was posting the angry messages. It had to be one of those suited guys in the front offices , no doubt , too cowardly to confront the issue directly . There was only Roy and I working in the back , and the drivers who came in and drove out would have told me to my face if there was a problem .
I was too dumb to even realize that there was an issue . Bent out of shape over a mustache ? Really ? But , it was those Vietnam War Love-it-or-Leave It days , that stretch of American time before ol’ Willie Nelson grew his stringy locks long and made hair not such a reliable loyalty oath test any more . Had the angry fool secretly posting the notes not been one of Roy’s front office bosses , I figure , Roy would have torn the things down .
” Do the best you can , and don’t take life too serious “.
When I got older and my beard turned white , I trimmed it down to a goatee , as older men tend to do , because I was uncomfortable with the Santa Claus look . Eventually I noticed that so many of us older guys sport those goatees I began to think of it as a requirement for membership in the old man club . I finally shaved the thing off a few weeks ago . Took the mustache off , too .
” Always do whatever’s next “.
I don’t care who the person was who posted the notes way back when . I didn’t care back then , either . Maybe it was old man S. , who had hired me . He never liked me . He had wanted to hire my brother Tom , but Tom had gone off to Officer Training School that year , I think , and I was the pinch-hitter .
It could have been any of those guys in the front offices . They were all snooty . It warms my heart , in a way , to know that whomever it was had assigned himself something important to worry over and to fret about . Hopefully , he twisted and turned and lost sleep over the fact that I worked there three more years and never shaved off my mustache .
” Things never go the way you expect them to . “
That dude is , no doubt , dead now , because it was a long time ago , and the mustache conniption is merely another faded memory of mine . I do hope the poor guy got to heaven , though , got to meet God , and that God has a long bushy beard and a thick and unruly mustache .