Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf, Lord of the Rings film trilogy 2001-2003. via

I have not yet decided if I should be complimented or insulted by a grocery clerk’s comment on my beard.

Last fall equinox I stopped shaving. No particular reason; I had spent the summer clean-shaven, which I actually prefer, but was <ahem> facing the usual familial criticisms. So I stopped, and the facial foliage filled in. (Fun follicular falliteration.)

Odin, the Wanderer, by Georg von Rosen in 1886. From Commons.Wikimedia.Org

And it has grown rather more rapidly than I expected; the last time I grew a full beard it took a couple years to get to where I am now, six moons in, about to the points of my collarbones.

Anyway, it must be some kind of impressive because the lithe gentleman behind the counter asked if I had ever dressed up as a wizard. But I have to give him allowances; his name tag claimed his moniker is Conan. Besides, what does a wizard dress like? all the ones I have known wore jeans and t-shirts and sat at keyboards.