Column: ‘I mustache you a question’Last Sunday I was a bit surprised to see a bushy-looking man walking through my mom’s yard in the Lester Park neighborhood.
By: JP Rennquist, For the Budgeteer News
Last Sunday I was a bit surprised to see a bushy-looking man walking through my mom’s yard in the Lester Park neighborhood. When he noticed me and began to approach me, I braced myself, figuring he was about to ask for spare change or maybe a sandwich.
He looked like what we used to call a hobo, although I think maybe they prefer the term “traveler” today; the ones that are left do, anyway. There aren’t nearly as many of those folks left anymore, but in the days when rail was king, family lore tells me that my grandma used to feed the folks homemade bread at her little home near the railroad tracks in Carlton.
It turns out that this guy wasn’t down on his luck at all, except for a gutter clogged up with leaves. He was just the neighbor guy asking to borrow a ladder. I pride myself on being an open-minded sort of guy, but here again was another case where pre-judgment had failed me.
Anyway, it was nice to meet the new neighbor. I spared him the tales of the other folks who had previously lived in his house the past 30 years, and even offered to help carry the ladder.
Growing up in Lester Park, you just don’t expect to see men walking around with full beards.
But a lot of folks are looking pretty bushy lately. And I’m not just talking about the “I mustache you a question” facial fashion trend, or even the backwoodsman-type styles popularized by local celebrities such as banjo wizards Trampled by Turtles. It’s Movember. Or Novembeard, as I prefer to call it.
The idea is to spend the entire month of November growing a mustache or a beard or, in my case, whatever scraggle
I can get. Along the way, it raises awareness for serious men’s health issues such as prostate cancer which, according to the American Cancer Society, is expected to kill 30,000 Americans this year alone. Testicular cancer is less common, and is often curable when found.
But the key factor there is finding it, and you find it by checking for it, and you check for it by thinking about it, and you think about it by talking about it. And that’s where a campaign such as Movember can make a huge difference. When people notice the scraggle on your face you can tell them, “I’m raising awareness about men’s health — have you talked to your health care provider about cancer screenings recently?” Or maybe, “Do you know how to check yourself (or your partner) for possible testicular cancer?”
Millions of men growing out facial hair and talking about it, however
they choose to talk about it, elevates awareness.
Movember is to men’s cancers as the pink campaign is to breast cancer. Or at least that’s what it aspires toward, anyway. Some of it is just silly fun, or a way to get people through the late-fall doldrums with a little fun and adventure.
For me, as a husband and father of three girls, this is one month that I don’t have to worry about plucking she-hairs out of my razors. For their part, some women’s groups have even started their own no-shave November campaigns to join in on the fun.
But for me, there are some actual heroes of Movember, such as Rich Kaufmann of Superior, who has organized a group of men to raise money for cancer research as they grow out their facial hair. Kaufmann’s team, the Lake Superior Soup Strainers, has raised more than $500 to promote men’s health. People can view pictures of Rich and his team and, even better, make a pledge of support online at http://us.movember. com/team/1018461.
Rennquist lives in Duluth and works as an educator in the Duluth area.