NOVEMBER is rather a sobering month; in the first place men grow hair all over their faces and, even worse, to prevent us from becoming cocky, we are reminded at church that there are only four certainties that face us, and these are death, judgment, heaven and hell. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Funnily enough, no one in this office has grown a moustache this year. Last year there wasn’t a clean- shaven man in sight. Some of them looked quite swashbuckling, with large handlebars and beetling eyebrows; others had straggly, fungus- like outcrops; and quite a few, although they had dark or fair hair on their heads, sprouted ginger caterpillars. Not a pretty sight. The reason men do this, of course, is that this month has become widely known as Movember; the young men are sponsored by various people — almost exclusively mothers, I should think — and the money goes towards prostate cancer research and treatment for depression among boys.
Everyone is being rather quiet as to why they aren’t sprouting all over the place but I suggest it is the attack of the Lysistratas; certainly, last year, more than one young wife publicly made it clear she would have nothing to do with her husband until the hairy face was gone. It’s good to be full of youthful zest.
It’s not really that comforting to face your own mortality when you’re getting a bit long in the teeth. I’d like to think I’m not yet in the twilight of my life, but I don’t have to be told that it’s hardly springtime as far as I am concerned. Friends are falling off the perch, having unpleasant diagnoses — instead of nose jobs — and going wonky around the knees. Lunches almost always turn to aches and pains and various unguents and preventative medicines.
On a cheerier note, when you’re that certain age, it isn’t as easy to do big sins, perhaps because you’ve done them all already and they didn’t work the first time around. If we’re really truthful we’d admit that the main reason we don’t rob banks, covet our neighbours’ dog or kill someone being explicit on their mobile phone on public transport is that we don’t like the idea of being caught out and embarrassed. In any case, I am far too busy to tell whoppers or let loose with a machete; I’m trying to encourage friends and foes to give money to my son. No, he’s not on struggle street; he’s growing a moustache. And a beard. It has become the thing to do at his workplace. Everytime I see him I have to steel myself against giving a startled shout: is this hairy creature really my baby?
The thing that worries me is the timing. He’s going to America for a couple of weeks to the wedding of a friend. The hair will have gone by then; however, he needs his passport renewed, so the new photograph will have him looking as he does now. A slightly scowling person of considerable interest.
fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au