September 13, 2012 —
Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m a teeny bit vain. I do look in a mirror once in a while and practice good hygiene on a daily basis. While I used to be a bit of a clothes horse, that particular aspect of life has changed a bit since my not-so-recent move to the Catskills. While I still enjoy getting gussied up for a special occasion, the relaxed atmosphere of life in the Upper Delaware Valley has allowed me the freedom to dress down far more often and become aware that it’s possible that it might be more character, than clothes, that make the man.
I’m unsure of how much character I may possess, but I’ve been called one on a few occasions. Being the personal assistant to Dharma (the wonder dog) has proved to be a full-time job recently, as her invitations to appear at local events continue to flood my inbox, and fortunately, her groomer is on speed dial. Last Friday, the dog was asked to be a celebrity host of Thunder 102 radio’s second annual “Hoops for Hope” basketball fundraising effort, benefiting St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital (www.stjude.org ) as National Childhood Cancer awareness month continues.
On-air personality Paul Ciliberto personally called Dharma and asked that she attend, while I tapped my foot, waiting for an invitation to tag along. “Oh, and bring Jonathan,” Ciliberto intoned, “we’ll find something for him to do, too.” Nice. As it turned out, the tournament—which was held at the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse at SUNY Sullivan and involved local celebrities competing in a free throw competition that folks sponsored with pledges—was a huge success, and I got the chance to prove (once and for all) that “white men can’t jump.” Jeff Bank’s Jason White gave me some pointers before the crowd arrived, but I suspect that he was attempting to throw me off my game, since my aim was less than perfect and I missed more than I hit the net.
As if designed to show me up, Greg Karpinsky (representing the Wurtsboro Board of Trade) strutted about, glancing balls off of the backboard (is that what it’s called?), joined by Greg Goldstein (from the Misner Agency), Ken Kavanagh (of the Wurtsboro Hogs), Jim Boxberger (Monticello Home and Garden) and Ciliberto himself, who was winded just from slipping into his uniform. If nothing else, I looked good—and everyone was shocked to observe that I own the correct attire (though I prefer to think of it as an “outfit”). Donations were made, fun was had, and although I looked the part, I managed to emcee the game while playing the fool, all for a good cause.
The next morning, I washed my hair and applied some gel before remembering that it was time to put my money where my mouth is and follow through with my commitment to the St. Baldricks Foundation (www.stbaldricks.org ) and have my head shaved publicly (eeek) in another fundraising effort that encourages folks to go bald and stand “in solidarity with kids battling cancer.” Although Dharma was willing to shave her noggin, I thought better of it, but brought her along, determined that one of us should walk away from the day with hair intact.
Event organizer Lou Monteleone worked night and day for months on end to insure that the day was a success, and it was. The “Human Line of Hope” and “Conga for Cancer” along Route 55 were inspiring, emotional and beautiful, and the huge turnout participated with wild abandon, celebrating, saluting and honoring those afflicted with pride, dignity and a renewed sense of hope as the race for the cure continues. With much fanfare, the shaving got underway and I took my seat. Feeling far more nervous than brave, I asked that we “start with a Mohawk, since it’s a good photo-op” and the buzz of clippers sent shivers up my (spineless?) neck. Hoots and hollers reflected what I could not see (mirrors were nowhere in sight) and Monteleone sent me out into the crowd to collect more dollars, as I sported my (momentary) new coif before the rest of my luscious locks hit the ground.
It’s over now. Naturally, the thermometer dropped the second my head was exposed, and I did shriek the next day when I groggily glanced in the mirror. Facebook friends are having a field day with their pithy commentary, and Dharma is unsure who the bald guy is driving her around the county. But I raised some much-needed funds (thank you all!), and although chilly, feel (not sure about looking) good about it. These kids are so brave that they inspire, and the shaving caused me to reflect on how fortunate I am that I have hair to lose, knowing that (with luck) it will, eventually, grow back. With chilly days already here, it’s a good opportunity to add to my wardrobe and start collecting caps. Friends continue to remind me (I think they’re just being kind) that “bald is beautiful” and even if I’m not, the children most certainly are.
For more about the human line of hope, click here .