my christmas gift to the world

I posted something here a few days ago about shaving my beard. I think I said it was my Christmas gift to the world, or some such thing, like there were tons of people out there dying to see my face again. Truth is, I shaved it because of a passage I’d read in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five.” It was this bit of advice given out by a British prisoner of war to Americans newly captured by the Germans during World War II.

…What the Englishman said about survival was this: “If you stop taking pride in your appearance, you will very soon die.” He said that he had seen several men die in the following way: “They ceased to stand up straight, then ceased to shave or wash, then ceased to get out of b ed, then ceased to talk, then died. There is this much to be said for it: it is evidently a very easy and painless way to go.” So it goes…

Linette’s grandmother, who I know I’ve written about here before, lived on her own in San Francisco until the age of 99. She got up every morning, exercised by doing the Charleston on the edge of her bed, put on her makeup and got dressed as though she were expecting company. She did these things without fail. She didn’t own sweatpants. She never just laid around. And she lived a great life. I’m not saying that everyone with a beard deserves to die. It just struck me that, if I really want to live – which I do, by the way – I’d better start putting in some effort. This was also the impetus behind buying new pants last week and getting a haircut. So it goes.

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11 Comments

  1. egpenet
    Posted January 6, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    I cut my pony tail off in sympathy … go for it.

  2. Chelsea
    Posted January 7, 2008 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Awesome post!

  3. Grandma
    Posted January 7, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Thank you Mr. Vonnegut.

  4. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 7, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I know I’m looking forward to your transformation from Grizzly Adams to
    Patrick Bateman.

  5. Posted January 7, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Energy creates more energy. Cool post, Mark. I had a great-uncle who lived to 100 that rode a motorcycle well into his 80s. What a great description of L’s grandma doing the Charleston by her bed every morning. Well done, good job Mr. Maynard.

  6. Stan Oslov
    Posted January 7, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I shaved my pubes, but I didn’t do it for the world. I did it for a very specific region in France.

  7. Posted January 7, 2008 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Damn, and I just started growing mine back out. If I’m reading this right, I should slit my wrists now? Fuck, I’m too lazy. I think I’ll slack off and drink beer and watch West Wing episodes instead.

  8. Camile
    Posted January 8, 2008 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I clipped my toe nails for the members of my local Y.

  9. Natalie
    Posted January 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I flossed for the Sudan.

  10. Ken
    Posted November 18, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Thought you’d be interested in this. It is a site that I loved called Letters of Note. Today they put up a letter that Kurt Vonnegut sent home after WWII. Reads as an outline to Slaughterhouse Five.

    http://bit.ly/4uHeCZ

  11. BLT
    Posted November 18, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Ken. This is awesome. You saved my morning.

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