This was a story my dad told my sister and I when we were pretty young. I didn't get it until high school.
Benny lived high up in the mountains with a lot of other boys and men just liked him. They were lumberjacks and provided all the wood from the forest to the surrounding villages below. It was hard, long work and required them to have their own small town isolated in the woods. Because it was mostly men who lived in the town in the mountains (and you would recognize a woman in this particular town), they all had beards that they paraded around with pride (yes, the few women did, too). There were men with exceptionally long beards, exceptionally thick beards, exceptionally red beards and exceptionally curly beards. Benny did not have a beard. He had always considered himself a late bloomer; but around his thirtieth birthday he began to think something was wrong... The men loved Benny, but they made terrible fun of his perfectly smooth skin and bare cheeks. Benny was very very distraught.
One day, when he was inspecting trees to be harvested, he came across a very large one with hole. Inside the hole, something was shimmering. He reached in a pulled out a dirty hunk of metal. Unsure of what it was, he spit on the metal and wiped it clean with his shirt. He suddenly realized that what he had in his hand was a magic lamp! And he had just rubbed it.
Out popped genie before Benny! It didn't laugh or giggle or try to play a trick on him as he had expected after seeing Aladdin. And it wasn't blue. It simply starred Benny hard in the face and asked candidly, "What do you want?"
"You mean, like, what do I wish for?" The genie rolled his eyes, "Yes. What do you
"Do I get three wishes?" Benny asked excitedly.
"Oh, but at least one?"
"If you must make a wish, yes."
Benny thought only for a moment about what he would wish for. His mind had already been made up, but he needed a moment to get over the disappointment the Disney movie expectations had instilled in him. "I wish I had the biggest, best, longest, red-est, curliest beard in this town!"
"Okay," said the genie, "but there are conditions. First, you must never, ever shave it off! If you do, the powers of the universe will wreak havoc on you and you will end up dead! In an urn!" Benny was a little frightened. He didn't want to embarrass himself by asking what an "urn" was, but he knew what "dead" was and that was sufficient warning for him. "Okay, I can do that. What's the other condition?" Benny asked, afraid of it's possible equal violence and absurdity. "Nothing," said the genie, "it's too much work to come up with something else now. Just don't shave." And with that, he disappeared. Benny decided to put the lamp back and look somewhere else for timber trees.
On his way back to the town, he noticed a tingling feeling in his face. And before he stepped his first steps inside the town borders, from his face was what some men spend their life-time trying to groom and cultivate - it was the biggest, best, longest, red-est, curliest beard the world had ever seen. Benny triumphantly marched through the down and straight to the mess hall to display his prowess. To everyone who asked, "How did you do it, Benny?" he answered in song, "when you wish upon a star, your dreams come true..." not realizing he his subtly was misplaced by his mixing up of two completely different Disney movies.
As time went on, the town's tourism industry blossomed. What was once an isolated mountain town gained roads and day-tripped. Where once there was a mess hall, a pub now stood, where once only bearded men could be seen, delicate figures of the obviously opposite sex could be made out.
One day, Benny was gracing the new pub with his handsome beard when he laid eyes on the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She wore glasses, because she was also the smartest woman he had ever seen. He introduced himself to her casually and she gave her name, "Violet." With his heart in his throat he asked her how long she would be staying in the mountain town. She answered uncomfortably, "Indefinitely. My friends and family have all moved here because of your great beard. The town not only requires lumberjacks, but also hotels, dentists, and an IRS man. I am here because my father is going to be warden of the first minimum security prison for tax evaders."
"Wow" Benny managed. He was both realizing that she was out of his league and that he didn't know what "taxes" were. "Do you want to go out sometime?"
Over the next few weeks Benny and Violet grew very fond of each other. Benny found Violet to be smart and independent, and Violet found Benny's hardened lumberjack body to be quite agreeable. Eventually, and rather quickly, they fell madly in love and decided to get married. It was Violet who proposed this idea by first letting her eyelids flutter romantically shut and leaning toward Benny's bushy face for a kiss. As Benny tried to similarly return the gesture, the bristles of his magnificent beard brushed the soft skin of Violet's perfect face. She shrieked and jumped back, opening her eyes and, thus, effectively ruining the moment.
"What's wrong?" Benny asked, "I don't know... let's try again." The same sad thing - Benny's facial hair was unexpectedly repulsive to Violet. "I suppose it looks much better than I imagined it would feel..." Violet tried to reason. "Can we still get married?" Ask Benny. "I don't know," said Violet, "I would really like to kiss you when we're married and..." she trailed off in thought, "why don't you shave it off?"
"I can't do that," replied Benny sadly. Without another word, Violet stormed off believing that Benny and his famous beard had chosen to nobly save the town by unselfishly maintaining it's primary attraction instead of compromising his responsibility in order that they might kiss/be married.
Benny was very heartbroken by Violet's reaction. She wouldn't see him in the days coming and Benny knew what he had to do. He knew that if he ever wanted to be with Violet, he would have to part with his beard.
He made a sad announcement at the pub one evening, and everyone silently watched him make the trek from the pub to the barber shop. When Benny arrived, he found a nervous and conflicted barber sharpening his unused tools (the Barber had not had a customer in this particular town since moving in. The revenue that would come from having the hair off the famous Beard of Benny was an overwhelming prospect that outweighed his moral convictions, yet still tormented him). Benny sat down in the chair and the barber said, "Just a trim?" and Benny answered, "Nope, clean-shave please. The closest shave you've ever given."
The barber whetted his tools and looked out the window, a great crowd had gathered to see the horrific event and the barber was beginning to feel his guilt consume him.
He examined Benny's down-trodden face many times over before raising his blade to make the first scrape. As his blade fell the first few hairs from Benny's face there was monstrous crack of lightning and thunder outside the window and darkness fell over the mountain town! When enough light had gathered to resume the shave, everyone was shocked to see that Benny was no longer in the chair! In his place was a decorated, copper urn with a picture of a great bearded man and the following inscription:
"A Benny shaved, is a Benny Urned."
Nope, really. That's The End.