Just Be Cause
During a family vacay to San Diego from the City of Brotherly Love in 1978, we drove to Disneyland for a day. Amazing! I loved the rides, sights and snacks-all of it.
I was eight and big into cartoons. Thinking about meeting Goofy and going home with a caricature of myself-tangible proof that I was, if for but an instant, a toon-still gives me goose bumps.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.
I headed down to the annual St. Baldrick’s charity shave-a-thon at Quality Social in the Gaslamp to watch some friends get their heads shaved to generate awareness and fund research for childhood cancer.
Nearly 50 local men and three women sacrificed their locks for children’s cancer. Their efforts, combined with the take from the bar, resulted in a whopping $25,000 donation to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
My friends tried to convince me to go bald, but I wasn’t having it. I hadn’t raised money, so what would be the point?
I was about to leave the event to meet the photographer and illustrator who documented this issue’s blind date (“Caricature Witness”), when I looked over at the shaving station.
Sitting on a bar stool by the DJ booth, a man about my age was going under the clippers. He was smiling from ear to ear. In front of him, a seven-year-old boy was jumping up and down with such unbridled glee, you’d think he was at the Happiest Place on Earth, and Mickey Mouse had just told him the funniest poop joke of all time.
As swaths of hair tumbled from the man’s head, the boy doubled over with laughter, then stood up to giggle and point at his father some more. When I looked back at man, he was smiling even harder-now with tears in his eyes.
The man’s name is Corey. His exuberant jumpingbean of a son, Trevor, I learned, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare children’s cancer, when he was three.
All 200 people in the room seemed to be crying or trying not to.
The love Corey has for Trevor, and vice versa, was palpable, but it was Trevor’s pure joy that moved me most. At that moment, it wasn’t about cancer; it was about Dad being hilarious.
I got my head shaved five minutes later. Honestly, I don’t know exactly why I did it. It just felt right. It was for a great cause, to say the least.
Later that evening, bald, I was having dinner with the aforementioned illustrator, Court Jones, while the blind daters were eating on the opposite side of the restaurant. And while I was working on my appetizer, Court was working on the caricature of me shown below.
Oscar Wilde once said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” For me, my caricature from Disney and Court’s new one are examples of art imitating life. The former reminds me of my own childhood elation. I suspect the latter, like the original, will continue to give me goose bumps, serving as a reminder of Trevor’s contagious smile.
If my ridiculous bald cartoon motivates anyone to shave their head next year, I guess that would be life imitating art-and welcome
confirmation that this ridiculous haircut brings awareness to more than just my scalp.
has been in remission since 2009. His family (Photos by Tim King) started a nonprofit called TrevorsToyBox.org, the mission of which, Corey says, “Is to heal through happiness, by giving toys, games and arts and crafts supplies to children in hospitals to make their stay more enjoyable.”
events have raised more than $90 million in 11 years. For more info, call 888.899.BALD (2253) or visit stbaldricks.org.