As the American actor Danny Pudi once said “I'm not gonna be able to grow a beard. I've realized my limitations as a human.” I quite clearly have my limitations. “What’s that all over your face…are you trying to grow a beard?” quizzed the man in the shop. “Ah, yes I am doing it for Movember,” I answered. “Movember…what’s that…it is Serbian,” he blurted. I escaped before he asked me where I was in 1991.
I have never been great at growing facial hair. It seems to take ages before some black whiskers peak through. If Gillette relied on me for their business they would have gone bankrupt a long time ago. I have tried many times and it has always ended in disaster. When I was in my late teens I loved Spandau Ballet, they just seemed so cool and always attracted the ladies. I tried and tried to grow sideburns like the lead singer proudly displayed. Fail! Big fail! “I wouldn’t go outside the wind will blow those sideburns right off your face,” I remember my friend joking at the time. Needless to say I ended up looking like a ballerina and not Spandau Ballet!
I couldn’t open a magazine without stumbling upon yet another headline about how beards made men look healthier and higher-status. I remember a headline from Maxim Magazine “Beards Make You More Attractive to Women, According to Science.” Oh blimey now science is against me as well. And then about 15 years ago I had a couple of months off so used the opportunity to try again. It didn’t really work, apart from a “goatee” beard. It wasn’t really what I wanted, I mean who wants to look like a goat, but because I finally had some kind of beard I was reluctant to go clean shaven again.
So came “Movember” this year and my chance to try again. Movember hasn’t really caught in in Croatia yet. Basically the idea started a decade ago and the idea is that men are encouraged to grow a moustache in November to raise awareness for men’s health issues. Prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention are all covered in this movement. Celebrities, actors and footballers have all got on-board to make the action global. Yes, it is the “M” from moustache and the “ovember” from November combined. You get friends and family to sponsor you and raise funds for the charity. This year was trial run for me. On the 1st I stopped shaving and it wasn’t until the 10th that my wife even noticed. The embarrassing and depressing memories of my early twenties flooded back.
Two weeks in and I kind of had a half stubble. By the twenty-day mark it started to itch terribly. I was spending most of my day scrubbing my face. I hadn’t trimmed it at all. My face reassembles an unkept lawn. Patches of long grass sprouting everywhere and spots of complete baldness. The last thing I do at night is scratch my face and the first thing I do when I wake up is rub my chin. At least I am saving money on razors.
“Is that a new look?” asked a friend rather sarcastically. He was the first of a tirade of sarcastic remarks. I actually spent an hour long meeting the other day just twiddling my semi-beard. “Are you OK, do you need a razor,” asked the businessman. “It is for Movember,” I replied hoping he wouldn’t ask me where I was in 1991. I look like I’d just walked out of the Alaska wilderness or been stuck with Robinson Crusoe for a month. By the time you read this I will be clean shaven again (probably). Friday the 1st of December is my deadline. And no matter how horribly itchy and uncomfortable it is I am determined to reach the deadline. “Maybe you could keep it for Christmas and I’ll colour it white so you look like Father Christmas,” joked my wife. Half of its grey anyway so I’m already half way to Santa.
Maybe I will keep it. If I can suffer the annoying itching, I’ll be sad to wave goodbye to my whiskers. Why not. At least I will be prepared for next year’s Movember. I just hope beards don’t go out of fashion, in fact I don’t even know if beards are “in” or not. To quote the English proverb “A man without a moustache is like tea without milk.”