No, it is not that I become any wiser in November. Not any funnier either. And definitely not because I look like George Clooney come November.
It is all because of my beard.
With every passing year, it seems like more and more students sign on to the "No Shave November" idea. While it might have begun in order to highlight men's health issues, especially prostate cancer awareness, I would think that quite a few males merely wait for an opportunity to neglect that five-o-clock shadow and let it grow into a month-long shadow. We men are lazy and we know it, and we are not going to waste an opportunity to be lazy.
And thus some students embark on growing facial hair. Perhaps even for the first time in their lives.
Which is when many find out that not all are born lucky to have hair growing into a beard. A couple of years ago, a student told me "not all of us can have a beard like you, Dr. Khe."
And I worried that I could never be a role model for students! Ha!!!
A year or two prior to this student's appreciation for my beard, a student had included in the free-response part of the faculty evaluation form "He has a cool beard." Apparently she (I have this nagging suspicion it was a she--the evaluations are anonymous) couldn't care whether the class was good or bad because of my intellectual abilities or how good or awful I was in the classroom. Or, perhaps she was merely employing the old wisdom not to say anything if there is nothing good to say, which is why she didn't comment on my teaching!
Anyway, I worry that women will think that they too want to participate in no-shave-November and will stop shaving. Their legs, of course, not their beards! hehe ;) It really doesn't take much to amuse me.
These are interesting and strange times. Women might stop shaving their legs for the month. And then, like men posting photos of their beards and mustaches, they will post photos of their hairy legs that can compete with my hairy leg. Imagine Facebook posts of female friends proudly showing off their unshaven hairy legs! And you thought all the scary tricks ended with Halloween yesterday?
Perhaps it is with the No-Shave-November that some will come to understand what GK Chesterton humorously said decades ago: "You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." Beards, like all good things in life, take time. But, worth all the time and the effort, of course.
Incidentally, do not think that scientists have not been curious about why men grow beards in these modern times of space-age razors. What they found would probably make you go "d'oh!":
Scientists think they may have solved one of the great mysteries of the age. Why are so many of today's men growing beards?
The answer, according to The University of Western Australia researchers, is because men are feeling under pressure from other men and are attempting to look aggressive by being more flamboyant with their whiskers.
Published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, Dr Cyril Grueter and colleagues were investigating the idea that in big societies, male primates have developed increasingly ostentatious "badges" which may enhance male sexual attractiveness to females and give them the edge over other males.
I suppose we can then expect to see the first-time beard growing young men to be smiling throughout this month, if you know what I mean! ;)