Jared Felkins: No-Shave November for the birds...nesting in my beard

November is always a month I look forward to each year. There’s just something about falling leaves, a chill in the air and the opportunity to go an entire 30 days without shaving.
Nov 16, 2013

“But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it’s the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan’s beard look good.”

— Bill Walton 

November is always a month I look forward to each year. There’s just something about falling leaves, a chill in the air and the opportunity to go an entire 30 days without shaving. 

No-Shave November, as I alluded, is a phenomenon I was familiar with, having partaken in the boycott of shaving cream and razors in the past. Until this year, however, I thought it was just an excuse guys created not to shave. 

Upon research – yes, I actually do some research for my columns – I found No-Shave November to be an effort to create cancer awareness by the American Cancer Society. 

Here’s what the ACS has to say about it on its website.

“The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.”


Upon further exploration, the movement has always been to raise awareness for cancer, specifically types more commonly found in men, such as prostrate and colorectal cancer. Best I can tell, a group of guys got together in Australia in 1999 and decided to grow mustaches in November as part of the effort. Movember was born and still has a following today. As far as I can tell, No-Shave November is an adaptation of Movember. 

I can’t say I have been so hip to not shaving this year as I have in the past. Certainly the concept is fantastic – not shaving for an entire month. There’s some convenience there, and that may explain the popularity. 

Maybe I’m just getting too old and grouchy, but this itchy, scratchy beard has not suited me this go-around. And I sport a goatee all the time. Just as an aside, it covers up all my chins. 

The fact is, my heart’s just not been in this facial hair cultivation experience. I think it’s because I have two different lengths going on with the goatee longer than the incoming beard. 

More importantly, it really takes me a while to get to a good level of satisfaction with my beard growing, much longer than a month. 

Despite it all, I’m sticking with it. Armed with my new knowledge, I’m not letting my comrades in whiskers down as we raise cancer awareness. 

I relate it to the guy on the old Wooly Willy children’s game. You know the one in the plastic package with the iron shavings and red magnetic pen. The best thing about Wooly Willy is he always has a smile on his face no matter the bad haircut or facial hair flaws. 

In any case, there are famous beards both past and present besides the ones created on Wooly Willy. I bet Moses sported a mean beard in his day. What about two-thirds of ZZ Top? Colonel Sanders had some great facial hair. And no good beard conversation can be had without mentioning the Robertson clan from Duck Dynasty fame. 

In sports, Giants reliever Brian Wilson made it hip, and the Boston Red Sox made it cool. Hands down, Rollie Fingers had the best mustache.

Then there’s Cat Smitherman. Cat – his real name is Larry – is not famous, rather he’s an infamous character from my younger days growing up in LA or Lower Alabama. 

Cat is my old college roommate’s father. Jason, Cat’s son, and I also went to high school together. It was always great to go over to the Smitherman home, because there were always two guarantees, good food on the stove and quality entertainment. 

For some reason, Jason decided to see what he’d look like in a beard somewhere around our junior year in high school. Cat always had a knack for pointing out the obvious in a clever way. He had a number of quality sayings that have stuck with me over the years, and all but one are pretty much unsuitable for print. 

So after about a week of Cat watching Jason and his beard work tirelessly to manufacture whiskers, it was evident hope was just about lost. 

But not before Cat could put in his two cents. 

“Jake, you look like a wolf with mange,” Cat said. “Go shave that thing off your face.”

I’m not going to throw in the towel for the good of the cause, but when the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 1, rest assured the whiskers will fly. 

Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins. 


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