Back when I was just a fresh-faced young blogger (about two months ago), just starting out with my daily posts and preparing my face for the moustache-growing endeavor that is Movember, I learned that Just for Men hair products was looking for facial-hair-friendly bloggers willing to review the product line.
Eager to test out just how far the Shallows extended, I threw my name into the hat—and I got a response. In exchange for a review, they’d send me a bunch of free products, as well as some Movember goodies, like a T-shirt and stickers. I just had to be honest and post by mid-December. I knew I could do the former, and was reasonably certain I could do the latter. As my grandma sometimes says, “I’ll be there if the good Lord’s willing and the crick don’t rise.”
When the package arrived, I got a little worried. I had thought the Just for Men product line would include moustache waxes or similar products, but it was actually their complete line of hair coloring, from sandy blond to real black. I knew that Just for Men did hair coloring, but I figured a product line involved something more. It was my first product review, and I was already fumbling around.
I let the go-between company know that I was sorry, that I didn’t actually have any gray in my moustache—though I do have some on my temples. They were cool with the situation and encouraged me to move forward however I thought best—but to keep the coloring on my facial hair, if I chose to use it. The stuff I got is formulated especially for coarser hair (though a warning inside the box said to not use it on body hair; I didn’t ask whether Just for Men has a product line for, uh, anything below the neckline—or below that).
I decided to take my dark brown moustache to black and, time and skills permitting, attempt to shave my facial hair into the Batman logo.
But first, my brother-by-choice—who does have a little gray in his facial hair, even though he’s a year younger than me—agreed to get in on the action, too. My review is supposed to be my own, but as I’ll still be posting my own thoughts, I thought this would be an OK write-up. He and I bleached our hair together years ago when we were roommates, and we’ve given each other haircuts (buzz cuts, but still), and we shared a bathroom mirror for shaving for a few years during and after college. We’re old hats at this.
You can see some gray just under his lip and to the right. His wife likes it, but he still wanted to give the coloring a try. The application is super easy and quick, and the package—he chose dark brown—even comes with disposable gloves. I mixed the coloring up in a little plastic tray (also included), he brushed it in, we waited five minutes, and he shampooed it out. That’s it.
He liked how it turned out. The single application made the gray strands take less of a spotlight. I asked if he would have wanted a darker color or a second application, but he said no. After he and his wife left, I turned to my own moustache. I’d let more of a full beard grow after Movember ended, but I was ready to scale back again. I change my facial hair a lot anyway.
As you can see below (despite the weird lighting), I’ve got dark brown facial hair.
I opened the box of real black and repeated all the steps from earlier in the evening. Easy. I was pretty liberal with the stuff, but there was still a bunch left in the tube, so I could do this a couple more times if I wanted. I waited five minutes, then hopped in the shower. While I didn’t go from brown to jet black, my moustache is noticeably darker. It’s serious. Like, this is a moustache that wants attention. I trimmed it up, and here’s the initial result:
I like it. I had got some of the coloring on the skin around my moustache and wiped it off as best I could, but there are still some stains as I write this. I’m sure they will fade. That’s totally not something I would typically worry about.
With my moustache blackened like a Louisiana catfish, I started the fine tuning. My tools: two straight razors, a detail trimmer, and a copy of the Batman logo.
A few experimental passes with the detailer in, and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The more I shaved, the more I said stuff like, “I should’ve kept that part,” and “Dang it,” and “Darn it,” and “Dagnabbit.” I really do say “Dagnabbit.” My 6-year-old has started saying it, too, in addition to “Nuts!”—which I don’t say.
I did the best I could, but the Batman logo just didn’t materialize the way I hoped it would. I took a picture anyway, which I won’t post now. I think I’ll hold onto it until the inevitable Fail Week here in the Shallows. My wife, however, thinks it’s recognizably the Batman logo—but as my wife, she’s legally required to say that.
Successful logo or no, the Movember effort was an unquestionable triumph. Friends, family, and an anonymous donor helped me to raise $375; I came in seventh on my team of 50 guys. That group, Dads/Bloggers, raised a collective $15,797. Boston, the city where our group was registered, netted $1,153,223. That’s one city’s total! The final numbers for the entire effort won’t be in until after April, but there has to be millions upon millions of dollars raised in the fight against testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health issues. Thanks to everyone who supported the effort in any way.
I may reward you soon with a photo of my terrible Batman moustache. I also probably have some beard/moustache coloring in your shade, so let me know if you want to try some out. Maybe I can lob a box your way.
My wife surprised me with a date night alone last night, for which we walked around the local farmers’ market and held hands. We held hands! Normally when we display even a hint of physical affection, one or more of our children will rush in to either get in on it or try to break it up. My middle daughter will literally clamber up my body and stick her head between our faces as I lean in for a kiss. Of course, she’s also held conversations like this when she sees us smooching goodbye in the morning.
Her: I hate it when you guys do that! It always takes longer!
Wife: But we love each other!
Her: Remember when you do it in the kitchen? Oh, I hate that!
As part of our date, my wife also surprised me with a small tin (you might recognize it as once having housed Trader Joe’s green tea mints) of moustache wax, in honor of my Movember moustache-growing efforts. The wax, I then learned, came from comb I harvested from some bees I helped relocate to a friend’s property about half a year ago, a process that netted me about 25 stings because I’d put the suit on wrong. Since they managed to get into my headpiece, most of the stings were on my neck and throat. I don’t recommend that. It’s like shaving, but with a blade that’s mad at you and wants to cut you over and over again, sometimes even by getting into your shoe and then down into your sock and waiting until you arrive at home to get you one more time.
My moustache won’t be waxable for some time yet—probably not till long after November—and she doesn’t really want me growing it out that far, so the tin was mostly symbolic, a sort of “keep it up!” made out of bee vomit and castor oil. Which, really, are two of the most motivating substances out there.
Thanks, Wife, for the wax! You may or may not find my chest hair sculpted into the Batman symbol when I take off my shirt tonight!
My son has two middle names.
One is Atticus, because we like the old-fashioned sound and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird is an awesome guy.
The other is Michael, because it’s a family name, and my wife’s uncle was an awesome guy. More than that, he was a hero.
Mike McGroarty worked for many years for the La Habra Fire Department, ending his time there with a seven-year stint as chief. Then he moved on to become deputy chief of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He also helped lead the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, which sends animals into dangerous situations to seek out people in need of rescue.
Through his work, Uncle Mike saw things no person should ever have to see, but for him, it was just part of the job. He fought on the side of life, whether his opponent was destruction left by an earthquake or hurricane or rubble caused by an act of terror. He worked to rescue victims of the Oklahoma City Federal Building Bombing, and he coordinated California’s rescue efforts in New York after Sept. 11, 2001.
After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he continued to fight on the side of life, though this time that life was his own. Despite harboring a disease that constantly sought to break him down, he pushed for positive progress, and he maintained an attitude of success.
He died on June 7, 2010, never once backing down from his battle.
When my wife and I found out we were having a third baby, she confidently told me it was a boy (we didn’t know for sure until he arrived), and then, with realization dawning on her face, said his middle name would be Michael. (Atticus had been a contender for a first name that we ultimately didn’t choose, but the girls wouldn’t stop calling their baby brother by that one, so we tacked it on, too.)
Even though I felt in my gut that we were having a third girl, I agreed with her.
Now, I can’t wait for my son to get to an age where I can tell him about Uncle Mike, and show him photos, because here’s the other thing: Uncle Mike grew and maintained an amazing moustache. A handlebar moustache. A big moustache with waxed points that curled up at the ends.
I can’t think of a better Movember inspiration, since the month is all about growing moustaches and fighting prostate cancer. It’s like the effort was started with him in mind.
If you want to join me, Uncle Mike, my (clean-faced 1-year-old) son, and an amazing number of men and women around the country and world in raising awareness of and combating prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues—if you want to join us in fighting on the side of life—visit my Movember page and consider leaving a comment or making a donation.
You can also tell me about the heroes in your life, because I know you have them.
It’s time to get serious about my Movember moustache.
I considered giving shaping-idea rights to folks who donated to the cause via my “Mo-Space” (yes, that’s what they call it), but instead I decided to open it up to anyone and everyone. Anyone and everyone who reads my blog, that is.
My current front-runner idea is shaving the Batman logo into my upper lip, with help from the soul patch below. I can’t connect anything, according to official Movember rules, because a connection would make it a goatee, and this isn’t Goavember.
Like that idea? Have a different one? Let me know, and I promise I’ll consider each suggestion. But make it soon, since I need to take this stubble from an on-the-way full beard to a moustache in progress pronto.
But for now, Batman seems like the best option. Who better than a superhero to help fight testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and mental health issues? (Hint: The answer is you and me.)
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.
I was up late last night playing Dungeons and Dragons (I’m just a level 2 bard, so don’t think I’m all hardcore or anything), so I decided to sleep in this morning.
Except, of course, I didn’t clear that with my son, who woke up at 6 and didn’t believe my wife and me when we told him it was still the middle of the night. It was dark out, so we thought we had a shot.
As the day brightened and the sun eventually came up, I realized that I neglected to post a pic of my freshly shaven face yesterday, the first of November/Movember. So here it is, freakishly close, to preserve some of the mystique of what I actually look like when I’m not a dimorphic-eyed doodle (for those of you who don’t know).
Wife, if you’re reading this, you can pretend I’m coming in for a kiss. Enjoy it while you can, as the stubble’s about to get painful.
I don’t like to be clean shaven.
I also don’t like to walk around with just one style of facial hair for too long.
So I’ll cycle through a full beard, then a goatee, then a moustache, then all-over stubble, then whatever. My facial hair grows pretty quickly, so I don’t have to wait long for a new look.
But even a short wait with a bare face makes me uncomfortable—and not just because I need something there to define my jawline. Fluctuating facial hair is a big part of who I am. I deliberate over what to do with my razor almost as much as I do in choosing my underwear.
I’m rarely ever without sideburns or a soul patch at the very least. (I’m rarely ever without underwear, either. Rarely.)
So to be clean shaven on Nov. 1 is no small deal. I’ve watched other guys participate in Movember before, and I’ve always wanted to join in, mostly for the unspoken camaraderie, the connection built by a commonality: in this case, moustaches.
If you don’t know, Movember is a means of raising awareness of—and money for—men’s health, primarily when it comes to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental issues. The organized effort encourages men to grow a moustache (there are rules for the parts of the face to which it can and can’t spread) throughout November, making for an increasingly obvious facial statement that will hopefully prompt questions of the “Why would you ever willfully decide to wear a moustache?” variety. Then we can answer, “Well, I’m glad you asked.” And then we can talk about prostates, and why they’re awesome, and why everybody who wants a functioning and healthy one should have a functioning and healthy one.
Participants can also garner pledges, like my kids recently did (in theory) for a jog-a-thon at their school. Oops.
Despite the fact that I recently sold a car of ours that we no longer needed, I am not a salesperson. Money makes me uncomfortable, mostly because I don’t understand it. So I’m not going to do a huge pitch to get you to put up cash in exchange for me doing something I frequently do anyway. If you want to, though, that’s great. You can check out my Movember page, where you’ll find plenty of details.
Since I’m new to this dad blogging thing—though I don’t really feel like a dad blogger, per se—I also recently joined a dad bloggers group called “Dad Bloggers.” They’ve got a Movember team going (called “Dads/Bloggers”), and I just sort of invited myself to join. Actually, they put out a call for participants, but I still fell like I sort of snuck in.
My surreptitious decision hasn’t been great for my face, however, since I just shaved everything off less than a week ago for the sake of my Halloween costume: the magic mirror from Disney’s Snow White. I’ve got a healthy layer of stubble going now as I write this at 11:15 on Halloween night, but I’m anticipating pain tomorrow morning (this morning, as this post goes live—like time-travel magic!) when I scrape it all off my face again, just six days later.
There will be blood, I’m sure, which is the tangential reference to today’s Freaky Friday doodle. My 6-year-old likes blood. If I remember correctly, she said this while drawing someone bleeding, and apparently needed to focus intently as she eroded her red crayon down to nothing.
I’ll be posting about my moustache progress throughout the month, and next week’s theme will likely be devoted to Movember and/or facial hair and/or men’s health on the whole, but to get an early jump-start on that, allow me to ask: What do you think of facial hair? How about moustaches in particular?