Beards, Homesteading and the Zombie Resistance
About a dozen years ago I was at a Starbucks near the place that was then my day job. Back then the places where you could get an iced latte at lunch were fewer and farther between, but I had a habit, so I’d drive fifteen minutes each way on a one hour lunch to get my fix.
In front of me in line at the register was a skinny young man with a big black beard that would have covered half his necktie if he had been wearing one. He wore no neck tie, but instead featured a long sleeved white peasant shirt that reminded me of the shirt I had to wear bussing tables at Beefeater’s when I was in High School. He didn’t order a drink, but instead wordlessly communicated his need for twenty-four inches of register receipt paper. The barista obliged him, pulling off a length of clean paper from the roll, on which the young man would write his manifesto or Song of Himself.
I envied him, not so much for his mental illness but for his ability to spend his day staring into space writing whatever came to him on a length of register paper. I have seen such men before– I once offered a man twenty dollars, which amounted to my entire worldly holdings at that moment, for his journal, on which he had written such words as I need P numbers for aeroplanes. The visual experience produced and laid down on paper by such people is often worth your entire holdings, whatever that might mean.
But oh, his beard! Not since a woman at a Grateful Dead show at the old Compton Terrace in March of 1983 had I seen such an impressive beard as I saw on the skinny man in the peasant shirt. He looked like a holy man, and a terrorist, and a cough drop peddler rolled into one. Well done, I thought to myself. Let’s see how George W Bush likes this development.
I was unable to stay and watch him compose on his scroll of register tape, but if I had, I suspect I would have seen him laying the plans for the homesteader movement that would become rampant in downtown Phoenix and elsewhere.
Today in the Coronado neighborhood, where I live with my wife and two daughters, there is a man who sells oil of beard for a variety of ailments and household uses. For humans, oil of beard reportedly relieves menstrual cramps, increases attentiveness in home-schooled children, promotes tolerance to local whiskey, and fosters a sense of community. In animals, it claims to make cats more sociable, cure dogs of their wandering ways, and help hens produce more eggs. For home economics, it lubricates home brewing equipment, keeps insects off of heirloom tomatoes, acts as a fabric softener, and protects the seals in mason jars from deterioration. It has also been used in making homemade cough drops, though I suspect this is an unscientific association between the images of heavily bearded men on cough drop boxes and the alleged existence of some sort of secret effective ingredient.
Meanwhile, the men who live in the neighborhood and are growing productive beards are able to add to their household economy by selling their own oil of beard to the entrepreneur who is commercializing it. I suspect it is only a matter of time before the bearded men use Google to learn how they can process their own beards rather than selling the oil to a middleman. As of this date there are no Wikipedia entries on oil of beard, but it’s only a matter of time.
Okay, the last two paragraphs are complete fiction, but I am certain that the following are all related:
Big bushy beards;
Gardening, Canning, and raising chickens;
Skinny Jeans with tapered legs;
Banjos, ukeleles, cult-like choirs and earnest vocals;
Preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
I also believe it’s bigger than that, that the above are only the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t made all the connections yet, but it’s only a matter of time.