Dirty Laundry

My Movember Shame

Okay, I’ll admit it. I shaved off my Movember moustache before the end of November. I’m not proud of it but it was almost like I didn’t have a choice. All right, I had a choice but I buckled in a moment of sheer panic. I wish I’d taken a picture of how grey and grizzled I looked after three weeks of moustache growth but all I have is a shot of me about a week in. Here is that photo:

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For all of you who don’t know, Movember is a charity where guys grow facial hair to raise money for men’s health. My stepson Dave asked me to join his team and I thought, why not? I’ve always wanted to see what I’d look like with a Frank Zappa stache. At first, I was enjoying all of the funny looks I was getting. Had fun Tweeting pictures of my hairy upper lip. I wasn’t getting a ton of donations, but I was showing solidarity with my stepson and support for half the world’s population.

Well, about ten days into the month I found out I had to fly to New York for a family emergency. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say that an older family member needed some serious medical attention and I had to be there to sort out this person’s care.

After several weeks of doctors visits and exploring a slew of healthcare options, the family decided that the best solution would be a temporary stay at an independent/assisted living facility for our loved one.

Most people have an idea of what these places are like. Basically, they are looked at like nursing homes. Except that isn’t what they are like at all. The ones I visited were more like luxury hotels. Where your food, wash and apartment cleaning are all taken care of for you. If you need added assistance, it’s there. If not, you can come and go as you please. My brother and I kept looking at each other and saying “maybe we should move into one of these places.”

Of course, we were half-kidding. The ages of the residents run from mid-sixties to early hundreds. And while my brother and I are getting up there in years, we’re not quite there just yet.

Except that one of the residents didn’t quite realize this. And here is where I got freaked out.

In order to get my relative settled in, I decided to spend the night to make sure everything was running smoothly. We had dinner together, went to a movie (Life of Pi - liked it a lot but not as much as I’d hoped), and then went to sleep. The next morning we woke, watched a little TV, got a few more details settled, then had breakfast.

It was just after our morning meal when we were searching out some of the activities rooms that “the incident” occurred.

A couple on the younger end of the resident spectrum (70’s?) were playing cards as we passed by. And the gentleman greets us with a “good morning” and a “are you two new residents here?”

I nearly fell over. My head started to spin. My body sweating all over. Resident? Me? Um, no. Maybe in forty years from now. But… but… but…

My family member laughed and came to my aid, saying that I was much too young to be a resident there. The gentleman scoffed, “I’m young too. Just turned seventy.”

I couldn’t get away fast enough. Needed to look in the mirror. Seventy? Did I look seventy years old? It had to be the moustache. It was shaggy and long and grey. I’ve had grey hair for years now. Started getting grey (and bald) in my twenties. Sure, I was greyer (and balder) now but seventy?

I had the razor in my hand before I knew what was going on. And I shaved and shaved and shaved until my face was clean. There was momentary shame. What would Dave think? What would my wife think? I gave up on Movember. For a little bit of vanity. But in the moment I felt clean. Like I’d somehow reversed time. Shaved off not only my moustache but forty years.

My breath slowed as the soapy water dripped from my chin. I stared into my green eyes. I’ll just make Movember penance, I told myself. I’ll donate to Dave and I’ll give it another shot next year.

Anyway, I’m home now. Just for a few days. Still clean shaven and still a little shamed. But also, relieved.

Now it’s off to Ottawa and the Ottawa Writer’s Festival. Visiting some schools and also doing a reading and signing at Kaleidoscope Kids Books on Thursday, November 29th at 7pm. If you’re around, come see me in all my clean shaven glory. Kaleidoscope Kids Books is located at 1018 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario. Phone: (613) 232-7406.