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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Shaving Of An Era



Meet John Gunn. John Gunn has a magnificent mustache - some might say legendary, but I am not one given to hyperbole. The point is, John Gunn has allegedly had this mustache for thirty years. To contrast, the only thing I have been able to hold onto for thirty years is my fondness for a perfectly-prepared ribeye steak, generally sour disposition and devilish way with the ladies. According to lore, Gunn shaved it once about fifteen years ago, thanks to a grooming mishap that sent its finely managed and delicately-calibrated symmetry awry. This has yet to be verified and I have sent my minions to the streets in search of photographic evidence.

This is my baseline observation of John Gunn: He is always in search of the next cool thing. I have never been by his desk without observing some new bit of technology, sorcery or a toy, gizmo or colorful bric-abrac that he is tinkering with or displaying with panache. I am assuming that this has to do with his tireless zeal and affinity for shiny objects. So, this mustache must be important to John, otherwise he would have dispatched with it long ago, and taken up with a new, exciting means of facially follicular celebration.

Regardless of Gunn's fondness for his mustache, he has agreed to a bet - a do-gooder wager - that will soon having him biting his new, smooth, clean-shaven upper-lip. The month of November has recently been re-named "Movember" (a portmanteau of the slang "mo" for "mustache" and "November"), and is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November. This, to raise awareness and funds for men's health, targeting such issues as prostate and testicular cancer. A young man sponsoring a Movember site issued the following challenge to Gunn: If we raise a target amount of money for Movember, would you be willing to shave your mustache? Seeing this as an excellent opportunity to support a fine cause and setting the bar at the unlikely reachable total of $2500, to ensure that his elegant lip-whiskers would most likely remain intact, Gunn agreed.

Well, here we are in December and not only was the total reached, it was surpassed and today is judgement day - today, the mustache gets shaved. A gentleman by the name of Jeb Henry donated the most money (a $600 windfall) and gets to do the honor of barbering the imposing thatch of hair. I asked John Gunn (or The JohnGunn, as I refer to him) if he had any concerns. He had three: Would the shaving leave a white stripe of virgin flesh below his nose that would make him look awkward? Would the mustache grow back gray? The third and most frightening concept was "what if I shave it and I lose all my tireless zeal and become sluggish and unresponsive to the world around me and all of its delights - unresponsive to life? Like Sampson - perhaps the mustache holds all that is good and positive in my world." A tear ran down Gunn's cheek and was swallowed up by the mustache as it attempted to pass. I had never seen him so introspective. I nearly got weepy myself, but as with hyperbole, I am not given to weeping, unless it's that Goddamned "Up" movie with its seriously unfair emotional ambush. But I digress.

Witnessing the barbering was an adventure in itself. Walking into the lunchroom, where this event was set up as a live stream for the internet and subsequent YouTube video, I couldn't help but notice that the place resembled an old-fashioned execution, with Gunn's chair facing the rows of chairs much like Bruno Hauptmann's electric chair, only with less fanfare from the audience. Gunn shrank back noticeably from the first swipes of the electric trimmer that Barber Jeb first used to cut away the outlying regions of the thatch. I honestly expected more screaming, begging and weeping, but was pleasantly surprised that the man in the chair accepted his fate with an honorable stoicism. Whether the trimmer was rightfully overwhelmed by the task, or Gunn's mustache simply grew back as quickly as it could be cut, it appeared that little headway was being made. One observer quietly offered that the "thing must be made of steel", all the while gazing on in wonderment.

Eventually, the mustache, despite all its heroic efforts to defend the only home it had ever known, fell to the blade and Gunn emerged none worse for the wear, looking at least ten years younger than when the task began. Some might consider it a valiant sacrifice for a worthy cause, or a new start - a fresh beginning... I'm nearly certain that John will find that the air feels a little bit different as he moves through it and his gait has been slightly altered by the removal of the mustache, which had previously acted as kind of a rudder and stabilizing device as he walked.

We shall see what the coming weeks bring - will JohnGunn turn into a listless creature with no drive, ambition, or savoir-faire? Will the patch of white ever tan? Will the mustache grow back gray, like Sam Elliott's in "Tombstone"? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, please pour yourself a glass of whatever pleases you, raise it high and join me in an elegant toast to the shaving of an era.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I am Johns Identical twin brother. Like John, I had managed to go quite a few years without shaving until a few years ago when I granted my wife her fondest wish for Christmas and shaved it off. That lasted for a couple of years till I could not bear the coldness under my nose and I grew it back. Not only did I grow it back i added a soul patch and an occasional Van Dyke (Goatee is just the beard with no mustache...).

    Hopefully John's wife will let him in bed tonight, I think she actually likes that wire haired terrier that lived under his nose. I notice John is suffering the same fate as I, he looks kind of like Fred Flintstone.

    Yabba Dabba Doo!

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