We are all conscious of our facial hair, and few people as much so as Denny. Denny has a mustache to be proud of. The students at the college where Denny does odd jobs created ‘Denny’s seal of approval’, a symbol featuring his mustache. One of the students came up to him the other day and told him, “Hey Denny. You’re cool now. Your mustache, your hat. It’s in style now. You’re a trend setter.”
Denny was pretty pleased to tell me of his new status as a trend setter. “You keep doing the same thing twenty years and it’s in style again, and you’re called a trend setter.”
Denny had a beard once too. I didn’t care for it, but he took considerable pride in it and in the effort it took to grow it. Where we lived there was a particularly friendly religious sect that required the male members to wear beards. To tell the truth, Denny looked rather like he fit in with them and one day I mentioned this to him. Of course he adamantly disagreed with me.
Denny was out with the kids watching fireworks on July 1st. I didn’t go and heard the story later. As they stood by the car, cracking sunflower seeds, waiting for the fireworks to begin, a man came up to him. “Are you from Kleefeld?” he asked.
“Are you a farmer?”
Something about the direction of this conversation and the fact that the man had a beard suddenly made Denny aware that our new car still hadn’t yet had the stereo installed and it didn’t have any hubcaps either. This friendly man obviously assumed he was one of them.
When Denny got home he went directly into the bathroom. Through the door I heard a dull buzzing sound. I looked at our boys. We started laughing. It was his electric razor. Sure enough, Denny came out of the bathroom with no beard.
I’ve had my moment of vanity too. Erna and I got a few “gigs” at seniors homes, playing our guitars and singing Christmas songs. One afternoon as we were leaving a home, a gentleman who was there visiting asked us if we were ‘escaping.’ It was a joke but, Erna and I looked at each other, refusing to believe we could be mistaken for seniors, even jokingly.
That day I decided it was time to dye my hair. I bought a box of six-week rinse out color that was supposed to turn me into an ash blond. Instead I came out a rusty red.
We had a show the next day and I was in a panic. Early in the morning I called up three hair dressers and took the first appointment I could get. I needed to have my hair done by noon.
It was pricy. What bothered me more was that now I was going to have the nuisance of dyeing my roots, something I hadn’t done before.
Denny has never complained about my hair going gray. He could have written the Billy Joel song, “Don’t go changing, to try and please me….” He always compliments me on my hair. He knows I spend more on my hair now, but whenever I ask him if I should go back to gray, he says simply, “I like it the way it is.” I think he means it in the same way that I like him the way he is now too, without a beard.