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DARRELL HUCKABY: Disney policy change has me back in the game

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Hallelujah! One of my lifetime dreams is once again within reach. I’m convinced I’ll never be president or play centerfield for the New York Yankees, but as of next month, I still have a chance to work at Disney World.

I love Disney World. It's the happiest place on Earth -- right? Every time I have visited with my family I have imagined moving to a Florida retirement community and getting a nice retirement job working for Mickey Mouse. I could drive one of the trams and sing "Zippity Do Da" to all the families on their way to the park -- or maybe drive one of the river boats or be the guy that stands at the entrance holding the rope every morning before the park opens. I could even play Prince Charming in a pinch.

I like meeting new people and I like Disney so what better way to pick up a little extra spending money than being at Walt's world, meeting new people?

But until right now I wasn't eligible to be a Disney park employee -- or cast member, as I believe they are called. I couldn't even play Grumpy, even though it would be the perfect typecast.

Why? I have a beard.

That is correct. For years and years and years the powers that be in the Disney Corporation forbade facial hair for all park employees. A while back they loosened those restrictions and allowed neatly trimmed mustaches -- but now they are going whole hog and beginning Feb. 1 will allow workers to sport full beards and goatees. I'm back in the game, y'all!

I, for one, think it is a good public relations ploy. I bet the Southern Baptists will even start going back.

I haven't always worn a beard -- only the past 20 years or so. I originally grew it to play Simon Peter in an Easter drama. Believe it or not, in the beginning my facial hair was full and dark and, quite frankly, I liked the way it looked.

They tell me Abraham Lincoln first grew a beard because an 11-year-old girl wrote him a letter and suggested that facial whiskers would make his thin face look a lot less gangly, which was just another way of saying that if you cover up some of that ugliness you might have a better chance of getting elected president.

It worked.

Now I didn't grow a beard because I wanted to be president. I already told you, I do not choose to run. I did have -- and do have -- plenty of ugliness to cover up. As with Honest Abe, it worked.

Honesty compels me to admit that my initial decision to sport facial hair was not met with universal acclaim. My mama hated it and my lovely wife, Lisa, was not a fan, either. In fact, just last week I overheard one of our Sunday school friends asking Lisa if she liked kissing a man with a beard. She said, "I don't know. He's only had it 20 years."

I don't understand why people have developed negative images toward bearded men. Some of the most respected men in history have worn them. I already mentioned Honest Abe and we've had an awful lot of clean-shaven politicians who could never live up to such a moniker.

A lot of my favorite people wore beards. Robert E. Lee had one and so did Stonewall Jackson. I named my son after them. The last time I saw Willie Nelson, he had a beard -- one that is about as gray as mine -- and who doesn't like Willie Nelson? Charley Daniels has a great big bushy one and so does Santa Claus -- who is even more popular than Willie, outside of Texas.

I'm pretty sure that Jesus had a beard. He did in all the pictures I've ever seen of him.

So my facial hair puts me in good company and Anna Tankersly keeps it trimmed up nice and neat, so I can't imagine why any employer -- even the Mouse that ate Orlando -- would object to my having one.

So hurrah for the Walt Disney Company. My application is in the mail. And I'm not choosey. I can play Prince Charming in any of the parks you choose and would be more than happy to kiss Snow White, Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella -- or all three if need be. After all, 20 years is a long time.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.