But one popular trend I refuse to indulge in is growing a beard. It’s becoming more popular for men to grow beards now, and I am proud to be avoiding this. I am going to stay clean shaven.
Beards used to be a sign of virile manhood, they are now as common on mindless hipsters as on real men. The waxed moustache fad is even more obnoxious. I met one person with a waxed moustache who was the real deal, and he was an older Sikh in a three-piece suit who wore a pince-nez when he had to sign some papers.
Usually anyone dressed like this is a young bullshit artist. And beards and waxed moustaches are a sign of a society that is only interested in the shallow trappings of manhood and not actually being a man. Being a man means no bullshit; it means being as much of an independent thinker as possible and looking critically at popular culture.
I indulged in popular grooming for a while when I shaved my head and wore a goatee. Women at the time liked the look and it looked good on me. I had a nice, full reddish-brown goatee that suavely showed off my Irish heritage and gave balance to my face. But too much grey started coming in. My hope was that going bald at a young age would spare me from a premature greying, but I was out of luck. The grey didn’t even show up in a nice salt-and-pepper look, but in a weird pattern that made me look like I was trying to grow a bizarre soul patch.
I refuse to use any products to color the grey out of my beard. That’s cheating unless you color it something flamboyant and strange so that it’s obvious and artistically sound.
Please don’t confuse this as a condemnation of all men with beards. I know plenty of bearded men who walk the walk or who had beards long before they were cool. My father and uncles had beards years before it was cool; they’re the farthest thing from trendy hipsters. My brother has a beard and is even into using fancy grooming products on it. But he was in the Marines, rides motorcycles and owns more guns than I do. These men have earned to right to wear their beards.
And the good news in all of this is that the propensity for beards illustrates a nascent movement to revive traditional manhood in some respect. We live in times when much of polite Western society finds it appealing to emasculate its men. The progressive groupthink classifies anything categorically male as an element of an enemy patriarchy, and that philosophy is intellectually bankrupt. The beards are the start of men wanting to be men again.
There’s finally an Internet challenge you can be proud of and you should ignore the naysayers and do it already. That’s the ice bucket challenge.
The number of Internet “challenges” that have proliferated over the last several years are legion. These challenges normally involve a potentially dangerous stunt such as the “fire challenge,” the “cinnamon challenge” and the like.
More recently there is the “ice bucket challenge,” which involves people pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. On the surface it’s another load of stupid fun, and it could easily be another trend without reason, though pouring a bucket of ice water over one’s head in August is not necessarily silly or absurd. And it doesn’t have to be dangerous, though some people have made it so.
What makes the ice bucket challenge stand apart from your run-of-the-mill daredevil or disgusting Internet challenge is that it is being done to raise money to fight ALS.
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a horrible disease that attacks the nervous system and leaves its victims unable to move or care for themselves before finally killing them.
While it’s certainly a good cause, I might just as easily be dismissive of the trend had I not known someone who was taken from us way too soon. I and several of my friends performed the ice bucket challenge in memory of Betsy Quilliam, a friend’s mother who died from the disease in 2008. “Mrs. Q,” as she was known to most of us, was like a second mother to a lot of us and her home was the central meeting place for my largest circle of high school friends. She was enormously compassionate and generous. There is no accounting for the magnitude of loss her passing represents and no way to express the enormity of the injustice of her death. She was a standard of pure selfless good in an increasingly selfish and introverted world.
So it was with pride that I accepted the ice bucket challenge. I got the challenge on a Friday evening and I was not going to be able to manage to video myself pouring a bucket of ice water over my head within the stated 24 hour deadline.
But that was no matter. Because the real point of this challenge is to DONATE MONEY TO FIND A CURE FOR ALS. All these chilled buckets will only be a waste of water if people don’t remember to do that. So far they have to tune of more than $70 million as of Aug. 24.
So while I didn’t get around to pouring a bucket of ice water over my head on video until Sunday, I got up early enough on Saturday morning to go online and make a donation. Initially that may have been all that is required. The donation was initially supposed to be done in lieu of pouring the bucket of icy water over your head.
But people want to see the bucket of water, and doing it allows you to challenge three people to do the same, so that’s three potential donations you can generate with a little bit of cold water.
I made my plans to do the ice bucket challenge. Lacking a large enough bucket, I cleaned out a large waste container we use to put recyclables and set aside seven trays of ice cubes in a bowl. My wife and I put our baby girls in their stroller and went outside our apartment building with our ice and our water receptacle along with my smart phone and a towel.
I added the water from a spigot on the outside of our building. That had the effect of melting some of the ice cubes which ruins the visual a bit. People want to see a lot of ice and water and want to see a big reaction to the cold. That visual of the ice and reaction to the cold is the “money shot” of these videos so-to-speak.
I guess I can take the cold pretty well because while the bucket of ice water was cold and a brief shock to the system, I didn’t flinch too much. I had planned out what I was going to say so I made sure to deliver my challenge. A few people commented that maybe the water wasn’t cold enough, but it was.
So there are three more people who will be donating to find a cure for ALS. Getting even a tiny bit closer to ending this disease is worth all the stupid Internet fads in the world.