Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Double Down

People who have known me long enough will remember The Beard, which I started as my college days came to a close, wore overseas for a year and after I came home, and continued to nurture through a year of grad school and into my first years of gainful adult employment.

I don’t know what happened to The Beard after we parted ways. It had its own personality, its own fragrance, its own ecosystem and self-sustaining food supply, plus quite possibly an internal heat source separate from whatever I was providing. With a little help from a friend who was trimming my hair one February day, I cut off The Beard and set it free. I did get a postcard once a few years later from wartorn Afghanistan, where it had fallen in with a ragtag band of fighters on one side or another. But no other word since then.

The Beard inspired artistic depictions back then. Maybe it’s time for another type of inspiration.

My brother has had a tame, civilized beard for decades now. He’s been fighting to keep any kind of color in it, but even he admits it’s starting to look a little gray and, um, distinguished. (He’s my younger brother. No way he looks old.)

My brother has announced he may shave his beard.

My brother’s nice, well-mannered beard

In early August, he’s expecting to ride 190 miles in two days to raise money to fight cancer. He has posted a challenge for the month of June: If he can raise $2,000 during June, my brother will shave his beard.

In early August, I fully expect to be sitting on my butt at home. I would love to ride with my brother, but I decided early on that the best way for me to support him in his fight against cancer—which I do support, in full, and proudly—was to take the money I would have spent to fly there, with a bike, and stay in hotels and rent a car and so on, and put that money instead into funding my brother and the organization he’s riding for.

So I won’t be riding with him. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have some skin in the game.

So here’s the deal: Want to see The Beard come back? One good beard deserves another: If my brother raises $2,000 for his cancer-fighting ride in the month of June, after he shaves his face for the first time in decades, I will not shave my face during the month of July.

And I’ll post pictures.

So it’s your call: What’s it worth to see me sprout an embarrassing curly shrub under my chin? $20? What’s it worth to know that as summer starts to warm on up, I’ll be scratchy, hot, and uncomfortable? $50? What’s it worth to know that when I spill soup, I’ll have to shower? $75? What’s it worth to know that every time I ride, the strap on my bike helmet is getting tangled up in long whiskers? $100? What’s it worth to know that all month long, my friends and co-workers will be offering me free razors, asking when I’m going to scrape that nasty growth off my face? $200? What’s it worth to imagine myself explaining this half-grown mess on my chin when I have to dress up for a friend’s wedding on the 17th? What’s it worth?

What’s it worth to know that you’ve done something meaningful to help people fighting to reclaim their lives from a diagnosis we all hope never to hear? What’s it worth to know that you have given someone hope?

The time to give is now. The clock is running. For July, if you give now, I won’t shave.

(After July, no promises. But if you can raise my brother’s $2,000 in June, watch this space for further developments.)

Point of clarification: As of June 1, my brother had raised $2,945 toward his goal of $6,000, so $2,000 during the month of June would put him at $4,945 by June 30. That’s the amount it will take to start The Beard growing again. As of this posting, you have 8 days to raise $1,550. Good luck!

The place to give is at http://www.pmc.org/profile/FB0028. Or, if you want to fight cancer but hate whiskers, you can always send him some Clif Bars to help him train.


Papa Bradstein said...

Wowza. I will want to see pictures of that.

If I raise $3,000 will you let someone cornrow your whole beard?

mrjumbo said...

If you'll get the $2,000 taken care of, we can discuss what to do when we reach $3,000 (or when we hit your final $6,000 goal by July 31).

I regret to say I won't make any pledges to regrow a full head of hair. I'm leaving that project to the next generation. It's good for them to have something to work on.