Joseph the Gnome

Once upon a time, long ago, a woman heard a knock on the door. She opened it up and much to her surprise stood Joseph the Gnome.

Wait a minute. That’s not quite how it went.

Once upon a time, long ago, a woman heard a knock on the door. She opened it up and much to her surprise there stood a strange man that looked somehow familiar. She asked what he wanted and she was shocked to hear the stranger call her by her nickname, Kate. She looked harder at the stranger. He said he was there to pick up her son.

She searched her memory for forgotten bargains. Was there an agreement with the devil and fiddle? Had she made promises involving straw into gold? Should she just shout out “Rumpelstiltskin?” She was lost as to why this stranger would want her son and she would be damned if she was going to hand him over.

“Uh, Sir, the sign says “No Solicitors”. Thanks.” She said as she started to close the door.

“Kate. It’s me Joe. Come on.”

And that is how my dad introduced his beard for the first time and was thus referred to Joseph the Gnome by my mother for long after. My dad might have taken this personally. Well, actually, he did. What he was not aware of, however, was that my mother was spending her days with a two year old and David the Gnome, a favorite cartoon and was probably the only cultural reference she had for a man with a beard at that moment.

The beard is something of a controversy in our house. Everyone loves it. His wife, his kids, his friends, his clients, everyone but my dad. My dad hates it. Or rather, hated it. He kept it going after he recovered from chemotherapy as a sort of superstitious don’t- change-anything-if-you’re-winning kind of thing.

It was attractive. He looked a little like Sean Conneryto me with the beard. The picture in my head of my dad is with this beard.

Then it happened.

A girl asked him if he wanted a senior citizen discount. That he is of AARP age is of no consolation. That he’s been looking for deals his entire life means nothing now that he can get 10% off on Tuesdays.

My dad who has always been confident, successful, popular and the life of any party, decided that his beard made him look too old and promptly shaved it off.

Then he sent me a picture.

I am horrified. To me, he looks a bit naked, a little vulnerable and totally NOT MY DAD. Seriously, it almost like I’m seeing him in his underwear. I’m not sure where to look anymore.

So, in a bid to convince him to let it grow back before I go home for Christmas, I’m putting it out there for you guys to vote on.

Do you like him with the beard or without?


24 thoughts on “Joseph the Gnome

  1. So, no, he doesn’t look as good w/out the beard. But my dad has a recently-grown pony-tail. He’s 59 years old and doesn’t have much hair on top and he has a pony tail. What can you do? He loves it. It makes him happy. I think everybody looks beter happy than they do sad and chained to facial hair they do not want.

  2. I think he looks GREAT without the beard.

    Younger – healthier – and more sexy

    It must be a curse to be that good looking ….

  3. Unless he’s going to start dying his greys, there’s no beating the age game. He looks more vulnerable and metrosexual without the beard, but otherwise the same age as with. As for attractiveness, well then I vote: beard.

    But a good tip, no matter what he does, is to be sure his beard, mustache, eyebrows, nose-neck-and-ear hair, and fingernails are well groomed and trimmed. The first obvious sign of a neglected senior citizen is lack of grooming.

    As soon as that shows you’re destined for early bird specials and the bus with the ramp.

  4. I think Megan is a little behind the times …. and is looking at the face and not the eyes …. which is the window of the whole person ….

    If a woman ever wore a beard … they / she would understand that it “hides” not only the face but sometimes the true “meaning” of who and what the person is …. but without the beard there is no hinding the words and the true meaning of the person. …. grow a beard, Megan, … live with it for over 12 years …. shave it off and then give an opinion …

    The “Metrosexual” died last year … the NEW MAN today is the “Retrosexual” (look it up) …

    He does not look vulnerable either …. as a matter of fact he looks confident and sure of himself. Spend some time talking / writing to him that fact will come out in the first few words.

    He looks like he beat all the odds and everything that life had in store for him …. and is still living … with a very good life …. the main word above is “living”

    This is what I can see in the picture.

    I vote NO beard

    PS … Grey means you won the game of life

  5. Ok maybe that came off harsh and not as humorously intended. Allow me to redirect:

    Beard or no beard, there is a feisty and avid twinkle in the eye of that ravishingly handsome fellow in the images shown. The girl who offered him the discount must have been off her meds at the time.

    That said, as a daughter whose dad has also done the “witness protection” bit (for the very exact same reason), I know the shock at seeing all that naked skin in the light of day. It takes getting used to.

    Jenn, take comfort in that nice strong chin of his. This is very very good.

  6. Megan … Megan … Megan

    HA … Your Father would be proud of you …

    I think Jennifer’s Father will be happy when he reads your very insightful response.

    I know he looks like he has a “thick” skin but alas, he is just a man … and you know how they are…..

  7. Jen,
    You caught me at an appropriate time for this question. I’m 45. I’ve had a mustache since I was 16 and only shaved it off back in boot camp when I had to and grew it back right after. My mustache started turning grey about 4 or 5 years ago.
    At first I ignored it. I have a little grey in my head hair but not as much as my mustache which was about white. I then started to color it with that “For men only” crap and it worked except for the first few days when I couldn’t help thinking ‘Groucho Marx’ when I looked in the mirror. Well, as you know I recently moved to France and the dye job was about done. I stood, looking in the mirror, trimming the damn thing and wondered if the French had some crap for the fragile male ego… ‘Pour les hommes seulement?’ . .I shaved it off. What a relief! For about a week I looked strange to myself in the mirror and I actually felt my breath from my nose on my lip for the first time. My wife liked it right away and I’ve been getting kissed a lot more. . .but that’s a different story. The French people I work with all think I look 10 years younger! That’s good for the ego. Sorry to be long winded but your question hit home. I think your Dad looks better without, but that doesn’t matter. Maybe your Dad was just tired of hiding behind a bunch of protein based itchy shit oozing from his follicles. So, jen, when you look at your Dad, don’t look at his chin, look into his eyes because that’s where he is.

  8. With the beard: sexy, dapper, just the right amount of studly.

    Without the beard: Eh. Guy next door.

    I vote BEARD!


  9. Jenny – I vote for whatever makes him happy!

    Karen in San Francisco, who loved the way you told this story.

  10. Oh, Joe, say it ain’t so! Take it from one who’s gay & grey, you looked sexier w/ the beard. I got rid of my beard (a goatee, actually) a few years ago (after having one for over a decade) because of the grey. Turns out, it was sorely missed by my partner. It took years for this to come out. And I wondered why I wasn’t getting any??!! Hopefully this isn’t happening to you. Anyway, my beard is back (greyer than ever) and all is better in the boudoir (wink).

    Oh, and enough of the sensitive postings as ‘anonymous’ — have jeffy & mim weighed in on this yet?

    If you really want to test which is sexier (& win the approval of the arbiters of all things sexy, namely big’ol hairy gay men) try this experiment: go to the Folsom Street Fair next year (unfortunately just passed) without the beard; then go the following year w/ the beard. Sure enough, even though you’ll be a whole year older, you’re going to get a lot more attention from the guys when you sport the beard. And take your wife (Karen?) along — she’s sure to get a kick out of it.

    (hairy) Kisses,

  11. First of all I do want to mention that in that pic of him and your brother, he DOES look eerily like Sean Connery.

    As someone who is unable to grow copious amounts of facial hair, (my sister would contest this)I am unable to weigh in emotionally as to why one should or shouldn’t have a beard.

    To me facial hair is like shoes. It’s an accessory not something that changes who the person is. The most important thing is if he likes himself without the beard or if he only is doing this due to what some stranger who really doesn’t matter said.

    I think he looks fine either way to be honest.

  12. Sally: I agree. I do want my dad to be happy. I just wish he was happy with a beard!

    Anon/DAD!: Its must be a curse. You’re a strong man to be able to deal with being such a hottie. But please remember, I have been protecting your honor for years.

    What you can’t see in these pictures is his charisma. It really does pull people in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to throw down to keep women off him. Its very disturbing.

    Megan: I totally caught your humor. We understand each other perfectly as daughters. He is rather well kept. His younger wife also keeps him well abreast of fashion etc…

    He does have twinkly eyes, doesn’t he. Unless he’s mad, then they kinda turn to ice and you know you’re in trouble.

    Anon: You are right on.

    Dorion: I found my first gray hair two years ago. I was shocked as i was only 32. I promtly pulled it out and saved it. Then i went to my stylist who informed me that i actually had a few grays. I promptly dyed those suckers. But on men, i love the gray. , but i can empathise with the ego blow.

    MY dad feels better without the beard. he has complained about it for years and I do want him to be happy, but again, I wish he was happy with the beard.

    And with my dad, when you’re talking to him, you have no choice but to look at his eyes. He’s the one who beat eye contact into me.

    Carol: I’m going to refrain from calling my dad sexy, but I’m glad you said it.
    It really is his personality that keeps him from being the guy next door. The in person guy is very unique and again, even before the beard i had to protect my dad from women. He couldn’t take us to the freakin’ park without women of all ages trying to talk him up. Very disturbing.

    Karen: Which is why he loves you so much.

    Shaun: LOL. Let’s not give the Old school Italian man a heart attack, Shaun. And he is SOO not allowed at Folsom. Can you imagine the awkwardness if we ran into each other???

    YOU are dead sexy with that goatee. I’m so glad its back. I’m coming home at the beginning of December. I’ll e-mail you today. Write me back.

    Jeff hasn’t had time to check it out and Mim is kind of afraid of my dad, so look for an Anon post from her. She’s with me, but then HER dad has a beard so she’s partial to fathers with beards.

    My step-dad shaved off his beard once and my mom called him rat man. I think joseph the gnome is way better than rat man. My mother was always the diplomat.

    Belinda: Doesn’t he?? There is a seen in finding Forrester where sean is walking through a subway and he is a dead ringer for my dad. Jeffy and i paused and re-wound several times

    I think it was a bit of both. I think it was kinda like Dorion, when he looked in the mirror the gray didn’t match the picture of himself. I can understand wanting to shave it.

    Lisa: Yep, that’s my dad.

  13. Hmmm – I was going to say BEARD! BEARD! (to beard is almost always a go, unless it smells like food) But he does look quite cute without one. So my vote would be for whatever makes him feel good! 🙂

  14. This may be relevant enough to mention to Anono-Dad: I totally beat you to the punch when it came to greying, having “won the game of life” at 20. “Skunkstripe” is a nickname that gets literal when a salon appointment grows near. On the plus side, Jen, you probably know by now that greys can do a pretty good job moonlighting as highlights…

    Grey is good. (and beards are still sexy, unless you get too much food stuck in ’em, but hey, “your body, your choice”…)

  15. Since my birthday is coming up and I know what Dad likes, I’m going to stategically say no beard. Honestly, one of the earliest memories I have of dad is him picking me up from school and suddenly not having his mustache and being horrified, I thought he looked wierd and not like my dad. Since then I have been partial to the Magnum P.I. over the Sean Connery. And Jennifer, you couldn’t find a picture of Dad with a beard that didn’t have me look like rain man staring at the crosswalk light.

  16. Hey Jen, just found your blog.

    I’d say from my perspective, your dad looks sexier with the beard (and I normally don’t like facial hair!), but feeling good about the way you look is the sexiest thing of all. So, in the end I vote for whatever makes him happy.

  17. Well who cares if he looks sexier with it if he looks happier without it? I love beards and love the beard on him. It looks great; it’s fun, ethnic and mysterious but the beardless Joe picture reveals a vitaltiy that says he is truly much more comfortable without it. Just look at the lighter Joe in the picture in front of the flowers. He’s beaming. The beard is fun but it weighs him down. He looks refreshed and rested without it as though he just got back from a spa vacation. I vote NO BEARD for a free, happy and lighter Joe!

  18. Aha- es sieht aus als waeren wir auf der gleichen Wellenlinie, denn ich denke auch das Dein Vater wie Sean Connery aussieht. Ich habe es ihm auch schon einige male erzaehlt.
    Dein Vater sagte mir ich solle Dir ruhig auf Deutsch schreiben, damit Du es schneller lernst :).
    Ich denke er sieht besser aus mit seinem Bart.


  19. We were trying to vote as a couple, but our opinions split. I like Joe’s face without beard slightly better, and Russ just the opposite. We do agree, though, Joe looks attractive and confident in either way. We’re also impressed with his ability to make a swift and clear decision like this. I imagine just an idea (or actuality) of having different hair cut or changing the style of clothes would make many people uneasy. In that way, our collective vote is “without it” in respect of Joe’s decision.

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