Tag Archives: Movember

Late Week: Remember, Remember, the Efforts of Movember

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Thanks Week: Bonus Post: Movember

Thanks Week: Bonus Post: Movember

I’ve been thankful for the support I’ve received this Movember, and seeing as it’s the last day of the month/effort to raise money for and awareness of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues, I thought I’d put out one more plug. I’ll post the results of my Movember moustache-growing efforts tomorrow, Dec. 1. And I’ve got some swag to give away. Any donors who want a thank-you sticker, let me know, and I’ll figure out a way to get one to you.

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Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

Toy Week: The Truth Hurts

I’ve been a best man several times.

Because of that frequency, I developed a sort of signature bachelor party that involved going to the beach for a bonfire and attacking the groom-to-be with water balloons if he failed to correctly answer questions about his soon-to-be bride.

When I was engaged, my best men (I had two) threw a similar celebration/hazing for me, quizzing me on facts they’d learned via an interview with my fiancee. The emcee equipped the other guys with ammunition, made me stand a certain length away, and then began reading by firelight.

The first question: What was her favorite childhood toy?

I paused for just a moment, then replied: “It was, uh, this stuffed dragon.”

My tongue had hardly left the roof of my mouth to make the final “n” when I heard a rush of air. A water balloon less arced than rocketed into my crotch, where it failed to pop. It was just a solid projectile smacking me in the groin.

There was silence as I doubled over. But still I looked up and maintained eye contact with the emcee. The other guys, all in a line, held their water balloons—the attacker was obvious due to his empty hands. Even the nearby breakers seemed to pause as everyone waited for the judge’s verdict.

A pallet cracked as it was consumed by flames.

“Actually,” the host said, “he’s, uh, he’s right.”

I tried to plead some sort of penalty for the offender—I can’t be bruised and battered like that for the honeymoon, I argued—but nobody cared. They weren’t there to be impressed by my knowledge of my future wife. They were there to pummel me.

Since I have three children, I obviously recovered. And since that was almost a decade ago, I’ll make a confession here: Before my bachelor party began, my fiancee told me—just in case anyone happened to ask—about her favorite childhood toy. So maybe I cheated. A little.

My best friends in the world might not have cared about the condition of my guy parts, but I care about theirs. That’s one of the reasons I’m participating in Movember, which aims to combat testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and negative mental health issues.

You hear that, J.I.? I hope your testicles are doing well.

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Fight Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Health Week: Freaky Friday: Waaaay Too Close

Well, my post about Man Cards went up on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page this morning, and there are now a lot of new people wading around in the Shallows.

A note to new visitors: Please keep your hands where we can’t see them.

I forewent the usual creepy quote from my kids (OK, the scary stuff all comes from my firstborn) today because the freakiest thing about this Friday is that there’s a whole mess of people reading about and commenting on an opinion of mine regarding the nature of masculinity.

And then, in theory, these same people are perhaps browsing around and learning my daily underwear selection process.

One of the weirdest things about writing is that it’s such a personal, solitary pursuit, but it’s frequently—not always—intended for a wider audience of readers. The idea is to make a connection and maybe spur someone to action, whether that’s prompting them to reconsider gender-based stereotypes, help fight prostate and testicular cancer (I know you’ve seen my moustache, but have you seen my Movember page?), or choose Batman-themed boxer-briefs over plain, white jockey shorts.

Words, to me, are about connections, and my hope is that this blog would be a conversation, not a monologue. To all who’ve been reading since I started and to the folks who’ve just dropped in for a quick look, thanks for sharing this freaky Friday—and your words—with me.

P.S.—I’m also taking weekly theme suggestions.

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Health Week: Breakfast

Health Week: Breakfast

My wife made pumpkin spice pancakes for breakfast this morning, and I ate 10 of them. With butter and syrup. I don’t know if I’m pleased to say that or if I regret it.

As I put a cap on Health Week, I felt it important to mention that, in addition to Movember, October is also American Diabetes Month. While my moustachioed face is meant to raise awareness of and money to fight prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues, I figured I could also mention a disease that almost 26 million people in the United States—adults and children—deal with, and another 79 million or so are at risk of developing.

I’m certainly not an active or especially healthy guy. I used to be: walking everywhere, playing Ultimate a couple of times a week, eating OK. But then I got a desk job and married a woman who, as you can see, cooks stuff. Good stuff. Great stuff.

My gut is certainly not her fault. I tend to eat quickly, so I’m full far before I actually feel full, meaning the “maybe I should stop now” feeling kicks in sometime around seconds or so. Plus, I’ve never been a team sports guy, and I tend to spend the time I could be running or enjoying some other sort of exercise reading or writing.

So I’d like to be more active. Wife, when you read this, hold me to it. You all hold me to it, too, if you don’t mind.

And even though I’m prepping to move on to a new theme (I take suggestions, by the way) for next week, I’ll keep talking about Movember throughout the rest of the month.

And I might just have carrots for dinner.

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Health Week: Bonus Post: Waxy

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!

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Health Week: Freaky Friday

Health Week: Freaky Friday

I chose today’s Freaky Friday doodle with one of Movember’s three main causes in mind: mental health.

While my oldest daughter said today’s quote in relation to a show she was watching—I don’t remember which one now—out of context it looks more like a line from a kids’ version of Milgram’s Obedience Study.

I’m keeping this morning’s post short because I have more to post later. Thanks for reading with me throughout the week, and for the support I’ve been receiving in my Movember campaign.

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To the Rescue

To the Rescue

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.

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Health Week: Day 5

Health Week: Day 5

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.)

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Health Week: My Many Faces

Moustache Week: Faces

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.

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