Baumhower: ‘Lenting it grow’ is akin to pun-ishmentWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
My Aunt Joan asked, “Is that a playoff beard?”
“No,” said Kacee, my 8-year-old daughter.
“Did you lose a bet?” she queried and Kacee responded hastily with another “No!”
“Why in the world would you grow that beard?” my dear aunt asked a final time, and I pointed and nodded to Kacee, giving her the OK, playing the straight man to the theatrics.
“My dad gave up shaving for Lent, he is ‘Lenting it grow’ … get it?” giggled as Kacee.
My Aunt Joan chuckled in the only way she could. She is an elementary teacher at a local Catholic school, and is probably the best Catholic I have ever met. Then I shared this story of how my Lenten promise/sacrifice had greatly backfired, that irony and karma teamed up against me to teach a lesson.
Catholics, as a show of contrition and faith, elect to give up, forfeit and or stop one tiny vice as a symbol of our beliefs for the 40 days prior to Easter, aka Lent. These Lenten sacrifices normally consist of kids giving up candy, adults giving up fast food or snacks — normally they revolve around one’s diet. In rare cases Catholics may chose to tackle something bigger — a life change, like quitting smoking or drinking or, in the very rarest of cases, forgoing on premartial sex. Since I don’t smoke, wasn’t going to give up the drink, and am divorced but dating a beautiful woman, the whole sex thing wasn’t really an option, so I decided to take a little levity and wear my sacrifice on my face. I chose 40 days of not shaving — I Lent it grow.
A brief facial hair history of myself would show that I am not the manliest of men when it comes to growing a beard. For starters, my five o’ clock shadow takes about four days to grow. There are a couple of spots on my face that I am sure do not have any hair follicles, so it looks incredibly weird when I try to grow a beard. To make it even more confusing, the hair on my head is super thick, full, curly and comes in a variety of colors from brown, red and now gray.
So the attempted beard featured more colors than a GLAAD flag. The manly man has to shave every day and can grow a beautiful beard within 72 hours.
That same facial hair takes me weeks to grow and never looks good; I appear more of a meth head than a part-time Catholic.
This was the look I was choosing to wear as a symbol for a man who gave his life for my many sins. I created a pun for my promise.
By Day 21 the whole “hoarder” look was haunting me, people were starting to glare and trying to figure out if I had lost my mind, my home or my health.
I think many were surprised when they saw I had a full mouth of teeth. I volunteered to pour beers for a charity at the Miranda Lambert concert. The many faces I recognized failed to recognize me back, people from my high school, the neighborhood, ex co-workers would glare as I said “hello” to them by name. I would then inform them of my “Lent it grow” promise and they would snicker and chuckle and I would weirdly be entertained, almost satisfied by wearing a Catholic pun on my face.
The third week also welcomed the unplanned-for side effects of growing a beard for the first time, “the itchies.” My job has an incredibly demanding schedule where I get up at 2 a.m. to work. As a father of four, that means my sleep is in limited supply. I average around four-to-five hours a day, max. The one thing I was not prepared for was the feeling of an overgrown, not maintained patchy beard and how it felt against my 400 count cotton pillow case. The combination is not the picture perfect scenario one would draw up to get more sleep, in fact my hours of sleep were pretty much cut in half.
If you can now picture by the end, I had a full patched-in beard of many colors, my eyes were heavy due to the lack of sleep and I was tired of my own created “Lent it grow” quip. I had shared my sacrifice with so many people, including my children that there was no way I could shave it early. In the only way the Good Lord works, or simply the sweet bite of Karma, my Lenten pun had become PUN-ishment.
On Easter Sunday, after a feast of HoneyBaked Ham, Stanley’s kielbasa, cheesy potatoes and Paula Deen’s corn casserole, I decided to shave. In less than five minutes, and after a purchase of a beard trimmer, I was back to my bare-faced self. When I rejoined the dinner, my youngest, almost 6-year-old daughter, Joeli, kissed me and whispered that she liked the “hobo” version of me better (“It covered more of your ugly”) — and I thank God for my children every day? It was like Jesus whispered the joke himself.
Jeremy can be followed via Twitter @Jeremytheproduc.