March 23, 2002

Al Gore shaves off his beard

Al Gore shaves off his beard - The main purpose behind having a beard is to make your jaw look larger and thus more manly. (A beard can also serve to cover up jowls and a spotty complexion.) I have a weak jawline, so I look better with a beard. (At least, that's how I feel when I look at myself in the mirror.) The problem with this is that the whole world has figured out - on a subliminal level - that guys with mediocre testosterone levels grow beards to make themselves look studlier. So, everybody assumes that a man with a beard is just a professorial-type trying to cover up his wimpy chin. That's why when I was a corporate executive, I always shaved off my beard when I needed to look for a job. Granted, this let everyone see how unformidable my jaw was, but that was less damaging than covering it up with a beard and thus encouraging them to assume it was even less dominant-looking than it actually is.

(Allen Mazur did a great little study where he showed people pictures from the 1950 West Point Yearbook and asked them to guess which cadets rose to the rank of general. Having no other information, people tended to pick the young officers with the strongest jaws and other masculinely handsome features - and they turned out to be correct more often than not.)

This popular (and fairly accurate) prejudice against men with beards caused Gore no end of trouble over the last year, and needlessly, because he has an impressive jaw. (Of course, it didn't help that Al refused to engage in basic beard-care. Gore had the classic "Go to hell, World" scruffy beard, which, while understandable after all he went through, wasn't helping him look like 2004 Presidential timber.)

What Gore really needs to work on is his lisp. No, he doesn't have a lithp, he has a lisssssssp. As Harry Shearer of The Simpsons told me, Gore tends to make super-sibilant "s" sounds. Darryl Hammond on Saturday Night Live had Gore's lissssssp impediment down perfectly. This tends to be a gay male trait, although our lack of accurate terminology causes confusion over this: Very few gays lithp, but quite a few lissssssp. Lissssping plagues gay choirs. This speech impediment damaged Gore's image with the public, making him sound more prissy and less manly than Bush, despite all the objective evidence that Gore is highly masculine. If Gore didn't lissssp, he'd be President today.

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