In September of 2006 some college friends and I started planning a reunion of sorts in Bloomington, IN and thought mustaches would be the theme of the weekend. Our wives, girlfriends, and significant others were not too pleased and wanted to put a stop to this. I have long been a fan of the mustache and planned on being a ring leader. In fact this was my second attempt at a mustache. A couple of years earlier I had been the best man at one of these friend’s wedding and grew a mustache for the weekend along with the other groomsmen. I do not think I am being conceited when I say that none of their specimens were as glorious as mine. That mustache had a lot to do with making mustaches the theme of this weekend. It was nice. Here, have a look for yourself. Magnum mustache.
As nice as that was, I planned on making this one even better. In order to really go all out I needed others to support me and grow along with me. As I said earlier, not everybody was on board. This inspirational, informative, and incredible letter from a friend changed that.
I feel that the beauty of the mustache is… that to every man… there is an individual thickness, texture, color and effect. It is the kind of rugged individualism that founded this country. Now, I have only been married for almost two years now… but, I didn’t know that the ring signified the right of another person to inhibit god-given inalienable rights… among them the pursuit of life, liberty, and the growth of mustaches. It is true… only Tom Selleck can make a mustache work as well as Adam… but, that shouldn’t keep us all from trying. It works for people in Chicago. They love mustaches. For people still not convinced… please let me enlighten you.
In 1800 BC, the Pharaoh Teqikencola outlawed mustaches among the elite of Egyptian society; hence the inevitable decline of his nation’s empire. The countryside became overrun by mustachioed bandits and foreigners who gathered popular support among the population who could not afford the expense (and bother) of shaving to please the Pharaoh.
Greeks and Romans were also anti-mustache. And, as is well known, their empires are no longer with us. Both empires collapsed, as hordes of hairy-upper-lipped barbarians trashed these centers of so-called civilization.
In Asia, mustaches have always been seen as sign of wisdom among the men (not the women, curiously) who wore them. Confucius is always depicted with long, fine streams of perfect hair emanating from the corners of his perpetual wry smile. It was he who said, “A man without a mustache is man without a soul.” Buddha wore a tight, fashionable mustache and is widely believed to be among the holiest men who ever walked the earth.
Jesus, also noted for his godliness, had a mustache (although slightly sullied by the addition of his beard, but I think Jesus is allowed a break). Although some historians and theologians have interpreted the Greek translation of Jesus’ Aramaic comment to his mother at the Wedding at Canaan, “Mother it is not my time yet,” to the more literal, “Mother, my mustache has not fully grown.” Holiness and mustaches, it seems, are
The Middle Ages were replete with mustaches. Charlemagne championed them. His great victory over the Moors celebrated in the “Song of Roland” was widely believed to be a battle over whose mustache style would prevail in Europe. Charlemagne’s supporters preferred the more free-form style, while the Muslim-inspired mustaches of the Moors were highly stylized and beyond the European barbers’ capabilities of the time. This caused the Moors to lobby Charlemagne to “fight to the death to defend our freedom of lips.” The pope (who preferred a shaggy handlebar mustache) later crowned Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor as a result.
The French have never made up their minds about mustaches. They’re in. They’re out. Clemenceau sported one, as did Louis XIV, but Henry V did not. Proust had one, but Sartre and Camus eschewed them. The British were likewise of two minds on the matter. The most famous mustache in English history is the one Winston Churchill could not grow. This fact made him a manic depressive, turned him into a drunk, and probably derailed him from his rightful place in history as a well-known ship’s captain in His Majesty’s Navy. The Germans took mustaches to extremes. Hitler and Himmler wore mustaches that tried not to be mustaches. But they knew if they were to hold sway over the mustache-crazy Aryans, they had to grow something. Hence, those pissy little bits of hair above their lips. Now Bismarck had a mustache.
In the United States, mustaches have been prevalent in politics and history throughout. Lincoln grew a mustache while he wrote the Gettysburg Address and General Grant had one as he kicked Confederate butt at Vicksburg. In fact, anything in American history with “burg” in it usually involved a mustache.
Modern times are probably the apex for mustaches. All styles and lengths are embraced. It is a time of mustache freedom. But we need to beware, to be vigilant, to defend the mustache to the death.
GIVE ME THE RIGHT TO A MUSTACHE… OR GIVE ME DEATH!!!!!!!!
Stache short for mustache
Now that everybody was on board (including my wife) it was time to prepare. One must devise a mustache growing plan of attack. It was my plan to have a mustache the entire month of May. I could start from scratch May 1 or come out of the gate in full stride. I chose the latter which involved cultivating a beard prior to the mustache unveiling. What follows is an account of that special month, May 2007, as well as theory, insight, culture, and commentary relating to and celebrating the mustache.
This was my first day with the mustache. It was a relatively quiet day with no strong reactions. I know people were in awe as they saw it, but they must have been quite intimidated. That evening I went to the grocery store. It felt odd. I was like a new man in a strange situation. I did not know what to buy. Does the mustache need a different set of ingredients than my prior smooth lipped self in order to thrive? I imagine the feeling was similar to that of a new parent or pregnant woman with little or no experience. I wanted to do everything in my power to give this new life a chance to grow and flourish. What if I failed? Not only would I be crushed, but the mustache would not reach its full potential. This mustache may change the course of human history if given a chance. With this pressure on my shoulders I proceeded as best I could and did what I thought best.
As I exited the supermarket, I felt liberated. It was a warm night, and I could feel the warmth on my face. I had been bogged down by the weight of a beard lately and it was good to be free. When I got home it was time for a little relaxation after a hard day of ‘stachin’. To my surprise and joy, Magnum P.I. was just starting as I flipped on the television. What better way to gain insight and advice than to learn from the master of mustaches himself, the man with the uber upper lip, Tom Selleck. It is amazing how helpful a mustache can be in solving crimes. As I sat back and watched I could not help but notice the confidence Magnum’s mustache exudes. This is the whole key to wearing a mustache the right way. There is no doubt the mustache is not as popular with the younger, hipper crowd these days. If you want to wear it successfully, you have to have a certain swagger. That is what makes a mustache work. Tom Selleck makes a mustache work. As an interesting side note, I had never noticed that Higgins has a mustache too.
The first few days of the mustache were a period of discovery. I discovered that the mustache cared about the environment. It encouraged a friend who he was riding to work with to buy biodiesel fuel. It cuts down on emissions and was a few cents cheaper per gallon than regular diesel. In addition to its good deeds, the mustache brought joy and a few tears to all who saw it. Reaction was overwhelmingly positive. People thought it was funny, distinguished, classy, and sexy. A small minority thought it was a bit creepy. You can make up your own mind.
One of those who were not so excited about the mustache was my wife. Throughout this process I kept notes, and I found quite a few from her. As stated earlier in the foreword, my wife was behind this endeavor. On day one I found notes saying she was rethinking the mustache. It even received a death threat. On a certain television program we watch a character was drawn with the addition of a mustache to make him the wanted pervert on a poster. She felt this strengthened her point that mustaches were creepy and gross.
While I am aware of the dark side of mustaches, I do not feel this should be their general impression on people. The sight of a mustache should not conjure up images of middle aged losers and vans. This so called molester mustache is thin and weak, just like the men who wear them. It is not a real mustache and they are not real men. They choose to wear a weak stache and it shows their weakness. My mission is for real men to bring back real mustaches and all their glory. As a bit of a disclaimer I am not saying that if you can not grow a real mustache, you are not a real man. I am just saying that if you would choose to wear it, you should possibly rethink that decision. I would also like to exclude the individuals that joined me in this reunion weekend that had weak mustaches. They were not in positions to fully cultivate a quality specimen and were doing their best to participate in the activities. They gave it their all and made the right choices in their lives. This also proves that wearing a mustache is not a right. It is a privilege. One needs to be aware of this blessing and treat it with the respect it deserves.
Cinco de Mustache!! As Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage, I felt this fifth of May should be a celebration of mustache heritage. I know for a fact that my father wore a mustache for a time. Mustaches are not just something I decided to obsess with one day, they are in my blood. They are a part of mine as well as many other American’s heritage.
This Cinco de Mayo happened to coincide with another annual party tradition, the Kentucky Derby. Some friends had a joint party for the occasions, and this was to be the mustache’s big coming out party. One good thing about this get together was that there would be a number of people there that I did not know. I could guage their reaction to the mustache. Did they think it was out of place? Were they creeped out? Was it sexy? All great questions I was looking forward to finding out answers to. The only downfall to this process was that my wife and some others I knew repeatedly would inform others of my little project. Everyone was quite supportive, but would they really tell me it was stupid? I wanted genuine reactions. The ones I did get were positive. I think I looked so natural that people gave it no second thoughts. The only times I caught people paying special attention to it were when I could see them thinking to themselves, “Damn that mustache looks good!” As a side note, the mustache brings no additional luck with it. All of the horses I bet on in the Kentucky Derby lost.
Throughout the next several days it was all about mustache awareness. In addition to those aforementioned, I had some friends from work and other avenues that expressed interest in growing mustaches. Several months and weeks before May began lots of people were on board. As we were now a week into May I noticed and caught wind of more smooth lips than I had anticipated. I had to rally the troops and get people on board. I heard all sorts of excuses such as wives, jobs, friends, comfort, and so on. These are all important things, and I am not asking anyone to choose mustaches over any of them, but I do not want empty promises. If you say you are going to grow a mustache, then grow it. If you have no intention of doing so, then do not build up the hopes of the mustache community.
I also noticed the mustaches gaining prominence in avenues of life other than my own. Famed St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcaster and former player Mike Shannon said of a pitch high and tight on Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright that “it almost took his mustache off.” Adam Wainwright does not wear a mustache, but that is alright. Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 9-2! A character with a mustache on a popular television show was on trial and noticed that the jury was turning against him, “even the guy with the mustache, and we usually stick together.” There is indeed a mustache community. It is more than facial hair. It is a lifestyle. There should indeed be clubs and organizations devoted to the culture, history, and cultivation of mustaches.
Obviously others feel the way I do. The American Mustache Institute is there. Their purpose is “protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, mustached Americans by promoting the growth, care, and culture of the mustache.” For more information on this organization please visit www.americanmustacheinstitute.org
On this day the mustache attended the first St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. This was an event to learn about the history of brewing in St. Louis, the pairing of beer with food, and to sample 63 varieties of beer from seven local breweries. I have recently started home brewing and I find a lot of similarities between brewing and mustaches. There is a definite sense of rebellion associated with both. Early patriots, who decided that this country should be free, such as Samuel Adams, also brewed beer. I do not think Sam Adams had a mustache, but he should have. There is also an art to both brewing and mustache growing. A finely crafted beer invokes emotion and shows the character and personality of its brew master. This is the same with a fine mustache. There are all kinds of mustaches, but not all fit every person. Fu Manchus only work with some people, as do handle bars and curly ends. In beer and mustaches, different people cultivate different styles, but they can be appreciated by all.
As an interesting side note to the brewing festival, I attended with my wife. You must be 21 to consume alcoholic beverages so they were checking IDs at the door. My mustache and I waltzed in with an air of distinction, class, and confidence while my wife had to show proof of age. Nobody questions a mustache. You just know that its intentions are good and pure. Here is a photo of the mustache enjoying some locally crafted beer.
The next week brought nothing but positive reaction for the mustache. One observer said, “If you can grow a mustache, why not.” It is almost your duty to grow one. Not everybody has this gift, so those who do must share it with the world. Just think if a number of the world’s talented artists decided not to share their gift with the rest of the world. The results would be tragic. This same observer also noted that where they work beards are not allowed, so many of the men have mustaches. I am not for any sort of follicle censorship, but the fact that these men wear mustaches is a testament to them. It also shows that mustache discrimination is lessening in the workplace.
Later that week I was out with some friends at a local eating and drinking establishment. It was crowded, and as we were leaving we had to weave our way through the crowd. As I squeezed by some people I overheard a guy say to his buddy, “nice porn ‘stache” in reference to my mustache. This was quite a complement that they took note of my mustache. This is all about raising mustache awareness, but I do not like the stereotyping of all mustaches as being pornesque. From porn stars to policeman, from perverts to politicians, men in all walks of life have mustaches. It is as if saying that hair on your head puts you into a specific class. The top of the head and the top of the lip are no different
It’s official! According to the state of Missouri, I have a mustache. I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles and got a state ID card. This needed official documentation. Look at it.
I know there is other evidence of me with the mustache, but none of them are official. This is an actual government document that chronicles the existence of a fine, fine mustache. I spent most of the rest of the week showing ID to as many people as I could. It was all in preparation for the big weekend.
It was really great to see everybody and their mustaches. The specimens ranged from spectacular to sordid. We met at an old favorite watering hole. There was a Pabst Blue Ribbon sign that featured a drawing of a man with a mustache. It was an excellent sign of things to come. As expected, mustache topics dominated the conversation. I do not remember most of what was said, but I am sure it was profound.
The weekend was fun. It was not all about mustaches, but then again it was. The culmination of the weekend was a mustache competition. Prizes were awarded to the top three. I placed second, and I must admit I have some issues with that. Let me start off by saying I have no ill will towards the first place winner or his mustache. It was fantastic. It featured curly ends and was quite amusing. It won by a single vote, and he feels the female vote carried him as they could tell his mustache was built for comfort. That may be, but there are bigger issues at stake. His mustache featured gimmicks. One attendee said it was like Coke Classic versus Sierra Mist. It was trendy versus timeless. I also received emails following the weekend that this mustache did not make it to work the following week as it had been shaved off. He had donned a beard the previous week to cover up his mustache. If the mustache is not comfortable at work then what sort of quality is behind it? I just do not know anymore.
Here are some comments people wrote throughout the weekend in my notes:
I made love to a man with a mustache. I loved it.
I was raped by a mustache! I demand persecution.
Sometimes, I cover my mustache and try to remember what it was like not to have a mustache. Then I shudder and say to myself, “We will not think of that again. Ever. ”
Is life without the ‘stache really worth living?
It is better to deserve awards than to receive them.
I continued to wear the mustache for the remainder of the month. It was really becoming a part of me which is what made its final day so sad. It was the death of a mustache. As I felt my smooth, naked face and looked at the pile of hair on the ground I could not help but shed a tear. This is what it looked like.
It reminded me that everything in life is a cycle. This month and the mustache were a microcosm of life as a whole. As I am finishing these thoughts several months later, I have become aware that I am soon going to be a father for the first time. In fact there is a good chance that my child was conceived while I was wearing a mustache. Mustaches must promote fertility. I can only hope that my child’s life in some way can be as full and meaningful as the life of this mustache. I also hope that it is a boy so as he too can wear a mustache with pride. That first night without the mustache I had to pull an extra blanket over my face at night as it felt cold and lonely.
On this day, the American Mustache Institute presented ‘Stache Bash ’07.
Here is a copy of the ticket.
I did return to my mustache for this event. It was not as glorious as before because of the short time I had, but it was real. This event was both a celebration of mustaches as well as a fundraiser for kids. Mustaches do good in their community!
The more mustaches there are the better place this world will be. Remember the next time you go to shave that you have the power to make things better for generations to come.