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From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

This week marks 31 years since my father died. I found myself looking at old photos of him yesterday and thinking about him — who he was as a person and what he looked like (his blue eyes, his nose, his sideburns, etc.) Memories flooded in.

I can still smell the manly scent of Old Spice aftershave — the kind my dad patted on his smooth face when he got ready to go to work back in the days of my childhood. That smell wafted through the back of our house and signaled to our family that Daddy was close to walking out the door for a shift at Air Freight Terminal (Robins Air Force Base).

With just a few exceptions, my father was usually clean shaven, which may be why I’ve never been a fan of facial hair on men. Of course, there were those two or three winters when he spent too many days and nights at the hunting club (deer hunting and playing poker), failed to shave for a week, and when he returned home, he looked more like Grizzly Adams or a man in the Witness Protection Program than Herman Lanier. On those occasions, he’d grab me and rub his prickly beard against my cheek — it felt like sandpaper and probably left the skin on my cheek rosy and raw. I celebrated when he finally shaved that thing off and restored our home to its normal state.

Though I’ve never liked beards, mustaches or goatees, there is a type of facial hair that I do admire — sideburns. And yes, my dad had sideburns for most of my formative years, which is probably why they always bring a smile to my face when I see them.

My husband and I were watching a streaming show on HBO last week about a family of irreverent evangelists when I noticed the oldest son, Jesse Gemstone, had two large, bushy sideburns framing his face.

“Wow, look at those sideburns,” I said. “My daddy had sideburns. So did his friend, Barney Jackson.”

I got lost in thought for a minute or so.

“Hmmm. I wonder why sideburns haven’t come back into style?”

My husband tried to focus on the Gemstones, and I kept interrupting the show with my comments.

But really! Fashion and styles are cyclical (flare leg pants, high-waisted jeans, Converse high-top tennis shoes, bangs, chokers, etc.) They are very trendy, then they fade away for a while before reappearing a few decades later. Isn’t it time for sideburns to come back?

For my younger readers who may not know, sideburns (also known as side whiskers) refer to the facial hair men grow on the sides of their face in front of the ears and downward toward the jawline. Actor Hugh Jackman had sideburns in his portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men series. John Travolta had sideburns in the musical movie, “Grease.”

For my much older readers, let me remind you that super stud James Dean wore sideburns in “Rebel Without a Cause” and Burt Reynolds often grew his out, too. Country music’s GOAT (Greatest of All Time) Johnny Cash had two really nice specimens on his face (sideburns all the way down to his chin that seemed to take on a life of their own), and Elvis Presley sported nice sideburns, too — they were as iconic as his music and risqué moves.

Speaking of Elvis, when he was headed to the U.S. Army in 1957, a lot of female fans didn’t want the military to shave off his beautiful sideburns and hair, but Elvis was okay with it, saying, “There never has been anyone who could avoid having his hair cut short in the Army. Even if they did give me special permission, I wouldn’t want it.”

The Army shaved every hair on his head and face off, and women across America sobbed and took to their beds.

The heyday of sideburns were the ’60s (the decade of the hippies) and ’70s (the decade of funk and groove), so isn’t it time for them to come back and be trendy once again? They frame a man’s face and add a little style to otherwise blah haircuts. They are just so casually cool. Most of all, they remind me of my father.

So will you join me? Will you help me make sideburns great again, America? Thank you!

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