Writing as one who sported a beard of varying lengths for the last 30 years, I finally tired of the dang thing last year and shaved it off. Except when a cold wind blows, I don't miss it at all. And now that the Times has declared beards to be fashionable, I'm liking the clean-shaven look even more!
I, too, had beards in the 50's and endured, along with my best bud, constant questioning about what I was trying to prove amid disapproving looks from the (sniff! sniff!) bourgeoisie. But when we visited the cantinas in Nogales, the young ladies there would enjoy stroking them and calling us Fidel or Castro Ruz. Occasionally. back in El Norte, I would also be able to strike up a conversation with a young beauty of an adventurous nature. This helped compensate for the dissenters and the annoyingly curious.
Between bouts of employment in New Jork City in 55 or so, I would grow various beards and had a mentor, who recently passed away at aged 91, a died-in-the-wool Communist and a survivor of a Nazi prison camp after having been captured along with his unit in the Battle of the Bulge, who encouraged my hirsute accomplishments. I think he saw it as an act of decent, well served, rebellion. My beard, as his, was a thumb stuck in the eye of the capitalist oppressors.
And now I have been wearing one for a few months and still am surprised by who I see each morning in the mirror and expect to keep it until I find it boring rather than surprising. I spend an average of 20 seconds every couple or three days maintaining it. But no one, as in not one single person, questions me about it though I do encounter an appreciative young lady every now and again. Only now the cute young chickie babes are 65 or older! Life is an adventure all right!