Monday, November 2, 2015

MOnday MOrning MOvember MOment #1

A couple of days ago, I got a clean scrape, leaving my bearded face bare for the first time since--well, since last October 31st, when I sat in the mobile barber's chair for a straight razor job at Samuel Beckett's Irish Gastro Pub.  

This is my 5th year supporting MOvember by raising a moustache to call attention to men's health issues. I feel naked and completely unafraid.

Monday, Movember 2d: Day 2 of MO 2015

But here's the real deal. I did not inherit my furry father's thick, dark, Nebraska Centennial award-winning beard. I have never had a 5 o'clock shadow "problem." After a whole month of my best effort, my moustache will look like an eighth of an inch of reddish-grey fuzz on my upper lip. For the first 10 days, most people will simply assume I forgot to shave that morning! How humiliating! 

"Where my MO Go?"

Why do this to myself, year after year? There is a reason for all this potentially embarrassing facial folly. For starters, it's fun to change up my appearance a little. In addition, there is a nervous tension between my being self-conscious and the other person wondering if I am doing this moustache thing deliberately. That tension really does work as a conversation starter. Launching the "men's health issues" conversation is important, so growing a 'stasche--even a light 'stasche--is as effective as it is fun. 

Know why you MO, bro!

Why is the conversation so important? Left alone, most men would never go to a doctor for a check-up. One way to deal with a threat is to ignore it. (I didn't say this was smart, just that it is common!) It's easy for a man to shift his focus from preventing a possible threat to his own health to any other more imminent threat, even if the substitute is far less important. Why are we men so often "addicted" to work or sports or gambling? Could it be that we men push off our fears of mortality by focusing on other battles--ones we have a chance of winning? Do we sometimes manufacture battles and conflicts to take our minds off our own weaknesses and threats outside of our control?  

The fundamental reason for the annual exercise in follicle farming: I want men to live longer, happier lives. 

Yes, of course, I want all people to live longer, happier lives. But there are some threats to health and happiness that men uniquely face:

  • Male-specific cancers like testicular cancer and prostate cancer 
  • Certain role-based challenges that show up in men as hypertension and depression 
  • Certain lifestyle-based challenges--less physical exertion results in diabetes and obesity  

The MO matters because the conversation is important. Intellectually, we men know that we need to get checked, but emotionally, we would rather not face the prospect of bad news. Enter MOvember! Men need the support and encouragement of other men to:

  • Understand that it is not "weak" to go to a doctor and get checked for male-specific cancers. Cancer is random! Get thee to thine doctor, dude! 
  • De-stigmatize the process of seeking treatment for hypertension and depression. These crippling diseases are all too common! Take time to make sure your brothers are  
  • Overcome the inertia of a sedentary lifestyle. Staying physically active is the best weapon against diabetes and obesity! Whether you MOustasche or MOve or both, do something and encourage each other to do MOre.

My own brush with cancer was an eye-opener. Early detection, competent doctors, excellent facilities, and well-funded research enabled me to survive my three-year ordeal. But not all men have been so fortunate. If shaving my beard and sprouting a faint little 'stasche is enough to spark 100 conversations and convince just one man to get and keep an appointment for a physical or mental health exam, then the embarrassing folly of farming facial follicles will have been worth it!   

I know why I MO!

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