(Facial) hair today, `Gone' tomorrow.


Byline: Sid McKeen


Sometimes when I look in a mirror, something I seem to do less of than I used to, I notice my moustache and wonder what my father would make of it. It was one of my old man's convictions that men who wore hair under the nose were sissies, and in his day there was no lower form of male life.

I think that was the biggest reason for his loathing of Clark Gable. That, and the fact that my mother adored him - Gable, not my dad. "He pretends to be a real he-man," my father would say, "and he's got that little (expletive deleted) moustache, and you know the guy is nothing but a big sissy."

Once he got off on his Clark Gable tangent, there was no stopping him. And my mother's arguments in the actor's defense only inflamed the discussion. "He doesn't strike me as a sissy," she'd say, citing one film or another in which the King of Hollywood had played a rugged outdoorsman, such as "Call of the Wild."

"I guess you weren't watching the same movie I was," he'd yell. "You remember the scene where he was splitting up some wood? Did you ever see a real man handle an ax like that?" Then my father would grab an imaginary ax and start swinging it over his head, doing his best impression of a mustachioed sissy at work.

They disagreed on a lot of things, and there were times when I thought for sure I was going to end up living with one of them but not both. It was the subject of Gable, though, that really made the sparks fly. I never did figure out why such a trivial thing as one movie star's manhood cut so deeply.

When Margaret Mitchell's Civil War novel, "Gone With the Wind" was what people were talking about, my mother spent her evenings for what seemed like a whole winter, reading it aloud to my father. It wasn't that he couldn't read, but my mother had a lot of ham in her, and she delighted in playing a role, if only standing in for the...

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