Men have a lot of choices when it comes to facial hair

March 15, 2004|EMILY TOADVINE

Anyone could tell it was going to be a mild winter by looking at Barry Brashear.

"It was the first time in 12 to 15 years I haven't grown a beard," says Brashear, who sports what he terms a "long mustache."

Brashear compared the lack of urge to cover his face to a famed weather predictor.

"I guess the woolly worm came out in me," the 42-year-old says with a laugh, admitting that seeing too much gray was a factor in his decision to forego the beard.

He has kept his long mustache, what some might term a Fu Manchu, for about three years. He changed from wearing a regular mustache at his girlfriend's urging.


"She thought it might make my face look longer," he says. "And change is always a good thing."

Playing around with the style of their facial hair is a luxury for men. They can try a soul patch where only a tiny amount of hair is left below the bottom lip, or a goatee, with more of the chin covered. A popular new style is a chin strap, where a thin line of hair is left growing along the jaw line. Some men just like to let it all grow.

Donald Tully, for instance, never debates whether winter will prompt him to grow his locks. Looking somewhat like the Rip Van Winkle character, Tully wears a long, white beard. Its length has varied - even down to his belly button before -- but it has never left him in 29 years. He marks the time by the age of his youngest son.

"I haven't shaved since before he was born."

His son, who works in Louisiana, probably would be shocked if he saw his dad without it.

"I could go down there and he wouldn't know who I was."

Although Tully claims his wife won't let him shave, he has a good reason for staying undercover. His job with Norfolk Southern requires that he work outdoors in all kinds of weather.

"The first year I worked in the yard, my face chapped so bad," he says.

Now that he is older he admits that he has fooled more than one youngster into thinking they've seen the jolly, old elf, Santa.

"I've had little kids ride my leg in grocery stores and stuff."

He lost his beard when he became a firefighter

Although Tully claims his beard helps him to do his job, Randy Faulx had to lose his when he became a firefighter 17 years ago. Since then, he has decorated his face with only a mustache.

"I've had it since age 18 and now I'm 52," he says, adding that his wife has never seen his face smooth-shaven.

When he first shaved his beard, his 2-year-old son thought a stranger had moved in.

"He wouldn't talk to me."

Faulx had to coax his young son into believing that he really was dad. He told him that when he grew up, he could grow a mustache and shave it off, too. His son accepted this logic, but still was mad.

"He looked at me and said, 'Yeah, and I'm gonna shave it off when you're taking a nap.'"

As much as Faulx would like to have kept his beard, he understands the hazard involved for firefighters. It interferes with the breathing apparatus they wear to fight fires. Oddly enough, Faulx says, a long time ago firefighters all wore long beards.

"They wet their beards and used them to cover their mouths when they went into a fire."

Faulx had a much simpler, but popularly-held reason for having a beard.

"I hate to shave. That's why I had a beard," he says.

Billy Statham firmly has decided to keep his beard, but not because of a dislike of razors. He recently converted to Yahvdism and has not altered his beard for six months because of religious beliefs. He quotes Leviticus 19:27 as the basis for his beliefs.

"Men are commanded not to cut their beards," says Stathom, whose beard now measures 6 inches.

In the past he wore a goatee, but says he never plans to shave again.

"I believe in keeping the commandments."

As a self-employed painter who also operates a vending machine company, Stathom says he isn't likely to catch any flack from the boss.

He also says the apostle Paul said men are not to dress like women.

"A man's beard is his clothing," he says.

Barbers see a variety of styles

As barbers at Still Cuttin' Up, Danny Dale Lamb, Dwayne Southerland and Jerry Farmer see a variety of styles. Lamb, a barber for 12 years, recalls that when he worked in Crab Orchard he there was one client who favored mutton chop sideburns. Lamb usually wears a goatee, but likes to mix it up.

"It's different all the time. Sometimes I shave it all off. It's one thing you can change pretty quickly."

He compares it to women experimenting with hair color.

"Instead of coloring their hair like women, men get more creative with their beards."

Farmer, whose beard is reddish, says he wears a goatee year-round. It doesn't matter to his wife.

"She doesn't mind. Whatever makes me happy."

Farmer says he likes the style because it makes his face look less round.

"I've been called Charlie Brown too much," he says of the round-headed cartoon figure in Peanuts.

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