J. had just left Whole Foods on Alton Road in South Beach when a woman pulled up in a shiny black SUV, which looked as if it had never been driven on anything but a paved road lined with palm trees. She was tanned, blond, blue-eyed. "Are you Russian?" she called out. Her accent was Russian. "I'm Irish," J. answered. He admired her face. "You carry your age very well," she answered, and drove off.
When J. told me the story, he said, "It must be the beard."
Years ago when his black black hair was turning gray J. grew a beard. I told him he looked like Gabby Hayes. Eventually he shaved off the beard.
I associated beards with Rasputin, Santa Claus and Monty Woolley.