For the past 24 days I have not let a razor touch my face.
You’ve heard of the whole “Mo-Vember” or “No Shave November” thing? Basically it’s a movement for the past few years where men (and teenage boys who think they’re men, more on that later) go without shaving for the month of November. Their purpose? In theory it is to “promote awareness” of testicular cancer. Listen, I hate the whole notion of awareness-promotion. What’s the endgame? Once you’ve been made aware, is there something else to do? And what man over the age of zygote isn’t aware of his parts? Finally, how is this promotion-awareness raising exchange supposed to go down?
“Hey man, nice beard!”
“Yeah, dude, the hair on my face is supposed to prompt you to ask me something about my testicles. Since you didn’t do that, I’ll just tell you. Check ’em every day so you’re aware of cancer down there.”
“You mean I just gotta’ ‘check’ my testicles? How do I do that?”
“Just check ’em!”
Good to know, bro!”
That’s a conversation with a hipster-wannabe I’d rather not have. In truth, more men should be checking themselves for a cancer that is so easy to discover if you know what you’re looking for (and that’s so easy to do). I actually had a doctor tell me once “Just make sure you or your wife check on a monthly basis.” Don’t have to tell me twice.
But again, I’m still not sure how the beard figures in. I guess it has to do with the fact that testosterone, produced in the same testicles, promotes beard growth. At least there’s a connection.
I teach in a Catholic high school. A year ago I was successful in gaining permission to start a contest where our senior students (the boys who think they’re men) were allowed to go without shaving during November if they paid a fee. That money went to a local pro-life outreach center. Here we’ve taken the popularity of Fuzzy November and transformed it into something we can work with! Regarding those boys, I sometimes forget how strange those teenage years can be. One day you’re a happy child and the next you’re noticing that the contours of your face have changed and are now sprouting whiskers. Where’d that come from? As for me, I started shaving when I was 13 and pretty much had to continue on a daily basis to prevent a 5:00 shadow from making me look like a Narc.
Don’t even get me started on chest hair. Around the time I turned 16 and noticed a lone hair on my torso, every actor and model decided to tell America that chest hair was gross. Thanks for that.
But over the years I have had fun on summer vacation or weekends just exploring what styles I could grow out. I’ve had a goatee, a soul patch, even a full beard once before. The thing is that I never kept any of them long enough to discover my comfort level with each. I just always enjoyed having a clean, neat, and trimmed appearance. Always kept my hair short, too.
So on November 1, I put down my Mach 27 and decided to just let go. And by November 4 I had a sufficient beard. Also by that date, many of my male students had a few patches. Some were troopers and really forced themselves to believe there was more than there was. Mine was flawless. By the 8th I had noticed something else. Although the hair on top of my head is blonde, the hair on my face is mostly ruddy with some patches of white. Wow. That was unexpected. Nonetheless, the whole thing was full and bordering on getting bushy. I won’t lie. There’s something awesome about it. It’s cool to know that people can tell just how studly I am just by looking at my face. Yeah, I got it goin’ down.
What shocked me though was the number of grown men who participated who couldn’t grow more than the 16 year-old guys in the contest. One coworker told me he simply couldn’t grow anything at all. “I tried. I just end up looking like a catfish,” he said. Another friend let it grow out but it just wasn’t working for him.
Mine is superb. So awesome is it, in fact, that I might just keep it for a while. Oh and that hair up top? Yeah, I took it a step further. I had shaved it off in solidarity with my sister who’s going through chemo for breast cancer. But even that look, I think, suits me. Imagine if you will a shaved scalp and a full beard. I just gotta’ tattoo the heck out of my forearms and I could fit in with a Hells Angels rally. No, friends, this is cool (and hot and itchy, ironically). I may not be the manliest of men but I can sure grow a beard. Kind of makes up for my tenor voice.
Now my only dilemma is deciding if I want to trim it back to a unique style. I’ll update you soon.