It was fun while it lasted, but “No Shave November” must eventually come to an end.
Five of Rochester’s finest said farewell to their beloved beards and goatees on December 1 while in the salon chairs of the Old Colony Cosmetology classroom as Cosmetology and Health Care Career students came at them with their razors– which is a darn shame, said Officer Sean Crook, whose wife was really digging his stubble.
No Shave November is an annual fundraiser for first responders to raise money for Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital Program that supports the “invisible wounds” of veterans, service members, and their families. Eleven officers of the Rochester Police Department pledged a $100 donation in exchange for a month-long exemption from the department’s facial hair policy limiting male officers’ facial hair to mustache only, raising just over $1,000.
Above the noise of the electric razors, Officers Robert Nordahl, Sean Crook, Alex Malo, Jason Denham, and Nathan Valente admitted that they’d miss their whiskers to some degree.
“This was the first time I’ve ever had a full beard,” said Crook, whose wife never approved of him in a mustache but rather liked the look of the beard. “It was showing a lot of gray, though, so it was showing my age – or my wisdom,” he preferred to say.
Donning a teal cape, Nordahl also lamented, “I’m losing all my wisdom, all my gray,” as one of the junior Cosmetology students trimmed down his stubble.
“This is the first time the junior students are doing beards,” said Cosmetology instructor Tammy Hoyle. “My juniors have more experience with beards.”
After Phase 1 with the juniors and their electric trimmers, the officers moved over to the Phase 2 station for a hot towel and a close-up with a straight razor.
“Ready to get rid of that mustache?” student Mikayla Murray asked Officer Valente whose facial hair was the most robust of the department for the second year in a row.
But not so fast, interjected instructor Rhonda Amaral.
“Are any of you guys on blood thinners?” Amaral asked, addressing the Health Care Career seniors wielding disposable razors. “Always ask a police officer if he’s on any blood thinners.”
“What if they say yes?” one student asked.
“Well, I don’t think we’d shave them if they say yes,” said Amaral.
The Cosmetology room was packed with students working or observing, teachers overseeing, and those who just came to watch and enjoy the spectacle.
“You guys are good sports, I tell ya,” said Amaral.
“What are you trying to say, Ms. Amaral?” said one student.
Crook asked the students working on the officers, “Are you always this quiet, or is it the nervous energy?”
“The nervous energy!” the students called out in unison.
Alyssa Labrecque admitted to Officer Valente that she was so nervous her hands were shaking.
“You’ll be fine,” he said, convincing Labrecque. “You’ll be fine,” he repeated, possibly convincing himself.
Cosmetology student Anna Kate Greene offered Labrecque some advice: “Just think about shaving your legs.”
Vocational Coordinator Jackie Machamer said she supports the officer-student partnership.
“I just think it’s a really great opportunity for the kids to demonstrate their skills and support the officers in No Shave November,” said Machamer. “The officers work so closely with us on so many things.”
As the officers one by one were through with their shaves, a few grabbed a cup of coffee and stood together and reminisced over the past four weeks.
“I feel almost … I feel, I don’t know…” said Officer Malo running his hand across his now smooth chin. “I miss it. I’m gonna be so cold now.”
Now Nordahl was done, and getting up out of the salon chair still eyeing the mirror, “I don’t like myself now,” he joked.
Valente was the last one still reclined in his chair. There may have been a couple of small nicks toward the end requiring a couple of pieces of gauze and a few more minutes in the chair.
“It’s already starting to grow back,” Crook heckled Valente.
One officer suggested that when Police Chief Paul Magee retires next year that he leave the officers with one parting gift – allowing facial hair on the force.
The officers joked about extending the No Shave November concept into other months, such as “Furry February,” “Mustache March,” and “Stubble September.”
Malo stated that he himself would pay the $100 donation a month to keep his stubble intact.
“I would pay the $1,200 a year to not have to shave,” said Malo.
The Rochester Police Department raised just over $1,000 this year for the veterans’ charity.
By Jean Perry