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Mind Over Miller: Hair today, gone tomorrow
Dr. Robert M. Miller tells of the days when he briefly wore a beard and mustache, and the confusion that sometimes ensued.
Like so many other guys in the late '60s, I grew a beard. I refused to let my hair grow long, clinging to the short haircut I'd worn since I was 3 years of age, but I did grow a beard while I was on vacation and continued to let it grow after I got home.
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None of my clients commented on the beard. Then I went to a veterinary conference in Dallas. Walking downtown, I became aware that people were looking at me. Now I am a very ordinary looking person. People don't notice me as I pass by, but now they were.
After several minutes, I stopped at a store window to survey my appearance. Aha! It was my beard! I had been wearing it for five months, and I finally realized that it caused people to notice me.
As soon as I got back to the convention hotel, I shaved off the beard, but I left the mustache.
Six months later I attended a meeting of the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association in Mazatlan, Mexico. While I was there, I snorkeled in the ocean. Because of my mustache, my snorkel mask leaked.
The next morning, as I got ready to attend the first lecture of the day, I shaved off the mustache. It was the first time in a year that I had been clean-shaven.
Afterward, I stepped back into the hotel bedroom. My wife was still in bed but she was awake. I confronted her clean-shaven.
"What?" she asked.
"Nothing," I answered.
"Why are you standing there?"
"Nothing," I said. "I'm going down to the lecture."
"OK. See you later."
That night we all met for dinner. There was music. I was dancing with Sherri Armer, the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association secretary.
"Bob," she said. "Didn't you used to have a mustache?"
"When did you shave it off?"
"This morning," I said. "And you are the first person who has noticed."
We were dancing close to the table where my wife sat, and Sherri collapsed in laughter.
"What are you laughing at?" Debby asked.
Sherri pointed at me. "Him. His mustache is gone and nobody has noticed!"
Debby's mouth flew open. She gasped, "When did you do that?"
A few days later I was back in my practice. A client came into the exam room.
"I thought I was going to see Dr. Miller."
"I am Dr. Miller," I replied.
"No you're not!"
"I used to be Dr. Miller."
"No! Dr. Miller has a beard."
"He shaved if off," I said.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at http://robertmmiller.com