REFLECTIONS: Getting a good shave — for charity — is priceless

Two weeks ago we held our annual Spring Artworks Gala in Big Rapids.

It was the first one I hadn’t co-chaired in four years.

And that was just fine.

For once, it gave me the chance to relax with wife Susan … rather than running around the place, helping make sure everything was progressing according to Hoyle.

Each of the Artworks galas, which are major fund raisers for the Artworks in Big Rapids organization, has a theme.

This year was centered on the James Bond theme and the title was “From Artworks with Love.”

The decorations were very clever … and the committee did a fantastic job of carrying out the 007 theme. And after the final tally was in, Artworks didn’t do too shabbily financially either! (Hearty congrats to those responsible!)

And each year, just like clockwork, a very special prestigious award is presented: The annual Distinguished Patron of the Humanities and Arts Award.

And for some absolutely crazy reason, yours truly was chosen as its recipient this year.

They caught me totally off guard. Which ain’t easy!

Just prior to Auctioneer Phil Currie starting the auction fundraiser, an overhead video started playing (with the 007 theme, natch), and a rather unique series of photos flashed across the screen … some that I hadn’t seen in years … and the beans were spilled. ( I know I uttered a word or two that I can’t reprint here.)

I cannot properly explain to anyone what flashed through my mind as Artworks President Doug Haneline presented me with my award.

It was an honor above honors … and to say the least, I was totally overwhelmed … and still feel very undeserving.

Yes, I will NEVER forget the evening (though I should post a warning here that there IS going to be some paybacks to some “friends” … and wife Susan and son John … for giving up some somewhat “unusual” photos for the video!)

Which brings up the real reason for this column.

It’s a very sensitive area.

It’s called hair.

Something that I seem to find lacking on my head … and even more so now.

See, thanks to the joint efforts of Karl Linebaugh and Karl DePew, some 32 people shelled out 25 bucks apiece to have my mustache and goatee shaved off. Now, that’s 800 smackaroos … all of which went right smack dab into the Artworks coffers.

Karl DePew, of Mr. Karl’s Hairdressing in Big Rapids, shaves Jack Batdorff at the Spring Artworks Gala. (Courtesy photo)

And Karl D., in shaving mine off in front of everyone must have felt a bit like getting even … a déjà vu feeling for what happened to him a month earlier at the St. Mary’s Gala.

But let’s face it … he only lost a mustache. (Probably because he can’t grow a goatee!). On the flip side, he DID have Father Lam do his shaving … who probably also gave his bare upper lip a blessing.

I only have one question for Father Lam: did you draw blood? Hmmm.

My mustache and goatee had graced my face for 40 years … and Karl DePew’s mustache is (sorry about that) was … a kinda’ Poncho the Outlaw look alike, and probably had been stuck on his face 30 years or so.

Anyway, I want all you kind folks who tossed in shekels to denude our faces to know you have caused a lot of problems for the two of us.

And the pair of Karl’s might not have even thought of this pending problem.

But me? I’ve had SEVERAL nights of sleepless sleep, tossing and turning over how to handle it.

See, it involves the IRS … and involves donations to charitable organizations.

And when my sniffer started scratching … I immediately smelled a challenge brewing…

As everyone knows, when you give a donation to a charitable group, you are allowed to take a charitable deduction on your income tax.

So, how do Karl D. and I handle this?

After all … and I’ll just have to use myself as an example … there WAS $800.00 raised for Artworks … and I DID donate my goatee and mustache to accomplish same.

So how do I list that on my form?

“Donation: ½ inch of mustache and beard … Value: $800.”

Or:

“Donation: 1 ¼ ounces of coarse light grey facial hair … value: $800.”

Or:

“Donation: cured facial hair, great lineage and age … value: $800.”

Or:

“Donation: 2,369 used facial hairs at 33.7695 cents each … value: $800.”

See my dilemma … and Karl, just think of the ramifications! (And you haven’t even counted your hair follicles yet!)

And then there’s the IRS agent … after he gets off the floor and recomposes himself.

“What do you think you’re doing Mr. Batdorff,” chortling as he’s talking, “Did you REALLY think this would fly?”

“Well Mr. IRS man, my CPA had the same type of reaction … monly we had to resuscitate her to get her through her laughing fit. And … (by the way, thanks for asking) … she’s OK now … but requested someone else in the firm handle my income tax returns. Something about her heart.”

“I understand,” Mr. Batdorff, “And, frankly, I can’t blame her … but really … I mean REALLY … how did you EVER come up with the idea that this is a contribution … a tangible contribution?”

“That’s simple, it took me a long time to grow this face hair … and as a gift … it DID raise a fair amount of money for the organization. My only question for my CPA was how to list the contribution … if it should be categorizes by X number of ounces or portions thereof, number of hairs, age of hairs … or what. I think I confused her … and that’s when she fell on the floor … but I don’t understand why … it was just a simple question. … Perhaps I should have called the IRS Regional Office.”

“Ahhh, Mr. Batdorff,” he replies, “I’m fairly sure that you might have gotten the same reaction from my associates in the regional office … in fact, they might even look at your call as a prank.”

“You know, Mr. IRS Agent,” I reply, “I’ve gone through your book on acceptable charitable contributions … and I just couldn’t find anything that covers facial hairs … why is that?”

“Ahhh sir,” comes the reply, “that’s probably because an issue of this nature has never been brought up before … after all, it IS rather unusual!”

“Aha,” says I, “Is that a very good reason to deny my simple request? After all, all I was asking for was how I should list it on the form … if you can’t help me, then I guess I’ll just have to improvise … and list it the best way I can … let’s see, now … ” DONATION … slightly used facial hairs … original value $8,100 … Donated Value $800.”

‘Now hold on just a minute, Mr. Batdorff … where did you EVER come up with the $8,100 value?” (I think I hear a bit of edginess in his voice.)

So I reply, “Well, Mr. IRS Agent, that’s simple. I figure I get 15 haircuts a year … and I figure that averages over the years … with and without inflation … about nine bucks apiece. Now over the last 60 years … that figures to $8,100. Now … I shave MUCH more often than I get haircuts … but if I figured that in, I’d have to probably quadruple or quintuple the 900 number … but I’d have to deduct for the nine bucks per visit as I shave myself … but then I’d have to figure in my time … on a sliding scale … and the wear and tear on the razors … and replacement factors (not including those my wife uses for her legs and those used ones that I save to use in my garden razor cutters) … so, all in all, I figured I’d just use the haircut factor by itself … because the other factors get into the tens of thousands of dollars … and I didn’t think that would fly … understand that all. Oh, by the way, you look a little pale … or is that your confusion look? Do you need a drink of water?”

‘Ahh, no, Mr. Batdorff, I’m just trying to find something in my manual that covers this rather unique request.” (As a side note, he’s REALLY beginning to look a bit peeked.)

“OK Mr. IRS man,” I reply once again, “It’s really quite simple … and obviously you folks … or rather YOUR folks … in the Washington head office need to have some help in writing a little something simple … like my explanation here … to get ahead of the game and assist us poor country folks in figuring how we should categorize hair gifts … because frankly, I think I see a trend on the horizon … and a nationwide pandemic of facial hair givers and buyers at every charitable auction… all calling your office for assistance in how to categorize their follicular donations. Do you see the magnitude of this Mr. IRS man? Hello? Hello? Are you awake? Let me check your pulse? Oh, that’s good … guess it’s just a cold sweat … didn’t know that a young fella like you could be going through change…

“… and oh yeah once again, just remember to have your folks in Washington give me a buzz … cause as I said, this year it’s Big Rapids, next year it’ll be Michigan … and then the nation … and you just gotta prepare for the hairy epidemic! It’s now in your court! Bye now. Hope you feel better when you get this off your chest!”

(I finally just got it off mine!)

Cheers … and hope your weekend isn’t too hairy!

Jack Batdorff is the chairman of the Pioneer Group. E-mail him at jbatdorff@pioneergroup.com.

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