Once there was a righteous man with a goatee. He managed his estates well, balanced personal time with time devoted to his family. When he died everyone who knew him was sad.

Years after his passing, an old man lamenting the decay he saw in the world remembered the goateed man from his youth. The old man was highly regarded and people came to him often seeking advice and answers to their questions.

When someone came to him with a problem, he declaimed: I once knew a righteous man! He sported a goatee. He managed his estates well, and was devoted to his family!

Most people have problems sooner or later. Ere long the majority of the folk had heard the story of the man with goatee and had some occassion to reflect upon it.

Now, these people happened to live in a period of magic when people were tolerant. Explanations were posited, opinions were built up and torn down over cups of coffee or stronger drink.

These opinions varied wildly, even though they had all pretty much been told the same story.

The majority was happy that such a man as wore the goatee had once lived, done some good in the world while being a family man, while the minority clove to the idea that the goatee was significant, if not as much so as the example of the man’s life.

From the disaffected of both groups, began to emerge new voices. It is the goatee that matters! These were never more than a tiny minority, but they were angry and very loud. Like all loud angry people, they decided to shoulder the responsibility of showing everyone else where righteousness was to be found. In a goatee!

At first, a man without a goatee could live as good a life as a man who wore one. But the situation changed quickly. If a man fell on hard times, the vocal minority would point out that he was one of those without a goatee.

Goateed men also fell on hard times, but of course their brethren were quick with aid, and advice. One of their leaders who wore a pointy hat, had once said: God won’t let a goateed man fall very far. From that day forth, the most righteous men wore pointy hats above their goatees.

Soon, the vocal minority began to harrass passersby for their facial hair. Only one type of beard could be worn by a righteous men. In fact, any other kind of beard was the same as wearing none at all!

Most women of course, couldn’t grow a beard, so they were advised to stay at home for their own safety, as the world was no longer the safe place it had been in the days of the goateed man.

Then came the day when a certain critical point was passed so that the minority became the greater plurality. Suddenly there were goateed men in pointy hats on every street corner. Later a man without a goatee might have rocks thrown at him even on the way to prayers.

Two generations passed and finally no one could remember a day when not wearing a goatee was an option. Men had goatees, women stayed at home, lest they offend god with their lack of facial hair. The goateed man was more or less forgotten.

One day, during an awful period of war, widespread poverty and the social degeneration brought on by the youth and their newfangled contraptions, an old man remembered a story he had learned on the knee of a man, who had learned it from the oldest man in a tiny village:

Once there was a man with a handlebar moustache who was righteous in all things. He managed his estates well and was devoted to his family…

©2012 - C Ewen Mac Millan