Before heading out the door, I gave my wife a goodbye kiss. Rather than reciprocate, she recoiled.
"Ouch. Would you please shave?"
"Can't do that, honey," I replied. "Not until the end of Movember."
"You mean NO-vember. Your lip hair is affecting your speech."
I corrected her correction. "Movember. It's a campaign to raise awareness about men's health issues. By growing a moustache or a beard in November -- see, I can pronounce it -- I'm letting the world know I'm fighting prostate cancer, testicular cancer and other maladies affecting us guys. My facial hair will help raise funds."
"So write a check," she said. "Run a marathon, sell cookies. Just don't come near me or I'll be spending all your moustache proceeds on skin cream."
I shaved. Truth is, I kind of agreed with her. There has to be a better way to support a cause than walking around for a month looking like a "Duck Dynasty" family member. As I write this column, the "Today" show hums in the background and all its male cast members are having a grand old time giggling while comparing their Movember growths. Not exactly what I want to hear while consuming my daily All-Bran.
So far it appears only Carson Daly was meant to sport facial hair. Over the years, Matt Lauer has succumbed to the pitfalls of middle age by going bald and resorting to bifocals while interviewing heads of state and assorted Kardashians. Now his scraggly gray beard makes him look like morning television's highest paid Skid Row vagrant. And don't get me started on Al Roker.
Even before November rolled around, it seemed crumb catchers were everywhere. The Boston Red Sox shunned razors months before their victorious World Series run. Never a huge baseball fan, I still watched the Fall Classic simply in hopes that a line drive might nestle in first baseman Mike Napoli's beard, prompting a never-seen-this-before ruling from the umpiring crew.
Perhaps the BoSox took their cues from professional hockey players who, as a unit, grow beards during the postseason. My team, the Chicago Blackhawks, captured the Stanley Cup this year, which meant I enjoyed two months of watching Patrick Kane's dazzling moves and his hideous attempt to remain unshaven. The star winger is 25 but looks as if he is still in the throes of puberty. Consequently his beard appeared to be spirit gummed on nightly by an apprentice theater stagehand.
In 2011 beer giant Anheuser-Busch equated facial hair not with men's health, but environmental concerns. Its "Grow One, Save a Million" campaign encouraged guys to conserve water by foregoing their morning shaves. Of course, millions more gallons of water would be saved, via less toilet flushing if guys just stopped drinking beer, but I'm sure that idea didn't fly among the Anheuser-Busch marketing team.
Should I ever choose to grow any type of facial forest, I'd like to do it for myself; not for a cause, a charity or a special interest group. What if, unbeknown to me, a moustache signals support of a controversial issue, say gun ownership? I don't need to be walking down the street, have some stranger point to my stubble and scream, "Listen, pal, assault rifles should be banned. I don't care what you think!"
Even worse, what if those same special- interest groups choose something even more easily obtainable than a 'stache? "Do you favor abortion? Show your support this month by wearing shoes!"
So Movember organizers, while I applaud your efforts, I will support men's health in the traditional ways. I will go for an annual physical exam. I will cut back on beer and wings, replacing them with fiber and multivitamins. I will voraciously hit the gym.
I will also remind my wife that an active love life is, and will always be healthy. She may not believe my come-on line.
But she will be unable to resist my baby-smooth face.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad," available at http://amzn.to/schwem. Visit Greg on the web at http://www.gregschwem.com.)
(c) 2013 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC