“Clara, did you know that when I was young, granddaddy was in the Army, and we had to travel around every few years from state to state?”
The little girl glanced up from her enchilada plate and looked across the table at her mother. “What?” she said with a swipe of her napkin that completely missed her mouth.
“Grandaddy was an army man. He had to move from military base to military base. They made him have short hair and he couldn’t have a beard.”
Clara looked shocked and took a quick drink from her water glass. “No beard?” she gasped.
“Nope,” her mom said.
Clara considered this for a moment. “Oh. Okay. I get it. That’s so they don’t shoot the wrong people.”
When I finished sputtering, I leaned back in my chair and thoughtfully stroked my chin. What a wonderful and strange time to be alive! A time when men have become more civilized and ordered. When wars have become organized games of “Shirts vs Skins”. Where the question “Friend or foe?” can be replaced with “Do you have a beard?” A future with no more flags. No more uniforms. You need to only examine a man’s jawline to know what he stands for. I considered these things while slowly running my fingers through the length of my beard.