I don’t know about you, but my moustache-growing efforts for Movember have put me in a mind to reminisce about the different kinds of facial hair I’ve had over the years.
I’ve done a lot with my face since I first started getting a beard in junior high: I grew out my sideburns to play Elvis in a musical in high school. I sculpted a Johnny Depp-esque goatee so I could be Jack Sparrow one Halloween (I know, I know—who didn’t?). I cultivated some Victorian muttonchops for my masquerade wedding (I know, I know—who didn’t?).
In fact, every depiction in today’s accompanying illustration is a real style I’ve sported. Yes, that includes the Wolverine sideburns, the half-face beard (I only had that for one evening, and surprisingly few people noticed—or were willing to admit they’d noticed), the bald-with-a-‘stache combo, and the bleached-white look, which a stylist did for me for Christmas for free one year when I was playing Santa for a bunch of kids at my wife’s work. The bleaching process took two days, and when I was just halfway through, my long hair and full beard were a buttery yellow. I looked like a harvest god or like I should be in the corner of an antiquated map near the compass rose, blowing ships toward the place that says, “Here be monsters.” I was scary looking.
I take a lot of pride in my ability to change my facial hair at will, and it’s something I hope my son will someday be able to do as well. I already mentioned this in my introduction to him on this blog, but I enjoy shaving, and I look forward to teaching him how to maintain anything from a bare face to a full beard someday, depending on his preference.
Well, his preference and his growing ability. To that end, I hope he takes after my side of the family—at least for the facial hair side of things. I also hope that, for the rest of his body, he doesn’t take after me at all. I’m pretty well covered, if you get what I mean. It’s like that scene in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss opens his shirt to bare his chest and Roy Scheider says, “You’re wearing a sweater.” But from the back.
I also also hope that I’ll be around to see my son grow his first goatee or moustache or whatever he chooses. This Movember has put me in a mind to think not just about hairs of faces past, but about my health for the future.
In researching the roots of this month-long men’s-health-awareness-and-fundraising effort, I learned that testicular cancer is most common in young and middle-aged men, which—at 34 years old—is a category into which I fall. Cancer.org reports that about half of all testicular cancer cases are in men between the ages of 20 and 34. I apparently have about a 1 in 270 chance of getting it in my lifetime (and a 1 in 5,000 chance of dying from it). Those are pretty good odds—but if you’ve been reading this blog with any sort of regularity, you’ll know that I’m a worrier, so odds don’t really matter to me.
There’s a self exam I recently learned about—it involves a shower, a thumb and fingers, and a familiarity with, well, the typical lay of the land down there—but I’ll spare you any more details. If you’re a guy and you’re older than 20, though, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specifics. And to roll with them about once a month. You know, for your future, too.
Sorry if this post got a little graphic, especially since I started by mentioning how hairy I am and literally went south from there. I should warn you, though, that I’ve set aside this whole week to talk about Movember and its focus on testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health, so it might not be pretty.
Hopefully, though, it will be good.