Monday, November 8, 2010

Failstache

I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror on Saturday, and ask myself some tough questions. Like: "Does this really look as non-sexualpredatorish as you think it does?"  Also, "Do you seriously have the self-confidence to walk out of the house like this?"

The image before me was the reflection of the face I'm stuck with.  It's not so terrible, really.  There are some things I would change if I could, but it could be much worse.  One way in which it has failed me, though, is in its inability to grow a thick, luxurious beard.  Thus the angst concerning the latest of my very few attempts at cultivating some kind of organized facial hair growth; to wit, a mustache.

Oh, how I have longed for the ability to hide behind the bushy mask of a Grizzly Adams beard, at least for a short while.  Or failing that, just to sport a modest set of sideburns.  How many problems in my life would have been solved by sideburns?  Pretty much all of them, that's how many.  But alas, it's just not in my genetic makeup. 

As far as anyone knows, my family is mostly extracted from the British Isles; and yet our men tend to have facial hair more typical of Asians or Native Americans.  In fact, my Vietnamese brother-in-law can grow a better beard than me.  It's a travesty, really.

So when a bunch of my imaginary friends from the interblogosphere were all of the sudden growing mustaches for a good cause, my heart sank a bit at first, because I assumed that I couldn't join in the fun. 

I should fill you in, in case you're not currently stroking your philanthropic fu-manchu.  There's this organization called "Movember," that encourages guys to grow mustaches in the month of November to raise awareness and money for research on cancers that affect men.  The proceeds go to  the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong. 

It's brilliant, really.  Just think about it: if you grew a mustache, everybody you knew would start asking you about it, right?  Because, let's face it, unless you're a cop or a firefighter or in the Navy, a mustache is a pretty outlandish accessory in this day and age.  And when people asked about your anachronistic accoutrement, you would say, "Well, I'm spreading awareness about cancer, and hey why don't you give me ten bucks ya cheap bastard?"    

But my spirits lifted a bit as I thought about it more.  A mustache?  I might actually be able to pull that off.  Compared to the rest of my face, I have pretty solid coverage over my lip.  (Also, if there was ever a neck-beard fund-raising movement, I would totally dominate at that, but I don't see it happening.) 

There was no way I could pull off a Tom Selleck or a Wilford Brimley; but something a little more conservative...maybe a David Niven affair.  Or...or a young William Faulkner!  I could rock that look!

Having mostly convinced myself, I announced my intentions to my wife.

"I'm going to grow a mustache!"  I said.

"Hah!" she replied.  "You and what army?"

That clinched it.  I would grow this damn thing, if not to benefit cancer research, then at least to prove my wife wrong.  I let her know the same.

"And anyway," I added, "the idiom is 'you and whose army'."

"Are you sure?" She said.

"Oh...you won't doubt my knowledge of colloquial English once I have a Faulkner 'stache.  And a pipe."

I could sense her eyes rolling even as she walked away from me.

I took a picture of my clean-shaven mug, as the rules of the Movember game require, and didn't really think about it until four days later, when it seemed like it was maybe time to shave again.

I shaved my whole face except for my lip, and stood back to take it in.  It...it resembled something not totally unlike a mustache!  I shaped it up a little bit and looked again.  I checked it out in three or four different lighting situations around the house.  By God...it was recognizable as a mustache!

Then I went to the kitchen and chatted with Dr. Mom for about five minutes before she realized what was going on with my face and gasped.

"Don't you think it's kind of dashing?" I said.

"You look like a child molester," she responded. 

But she didn't demand that I get rid of it.

And I might have left it there, except that we were going to a pool party that afternoon, and I would have had to explain it to our friends there.  Which of course is the idea behind the whole Movember thing.  But then I thought about the awkwardness.  These friends are not like my old buddies who would be all, "Dude!  You look like a gay porn star from the seventies!"  These are friends we have made through our kids.  Parent-friends.  Friends who probably have not watched much seventies gay porn. 

In fact, the friends at the pool party probably wouldn't even mention the 'stache.  They wouldn't dig the irony*.  They would probably think that I really thought it looked cool.  Which I kind of was starting to do.  But cool in a ridiculous way.  I wondered if I would always have to smirk as long as I had the mustache.  Irony is so confusing sometimes. 

It made me think about the hipster kids.  Do they all know that their neon sunglasses and American Apparel scoop neck tees (and mustaches, in many cases) look idiotic?  Or has the coolness of the attitude rubbed off on the outward trappings to such an extent that it has created a new aesthetic framework in which skinny jeans with baggy asses are attractive?  You can see how I could easily churn myself into a meta-mustache maelstrom.

Then I thought about the reactions I'd get from people I interact with regularly.  Since I don't have one of those jobs, I don't see the same people all day every day.  I see people at the store, the playground, the dog park, etc., but we don't really know each other that well.  Not well enough to say that the other looks like an ass.  And that's the appropriate ice-breaker to get the Movember scheme to work.  If you have to say, "Hey, did you see my weak-ass little mustache?  Well, I'm not really the kind of guy who grows a mustache, but, well...you see, it's kind of a lark, heh heh, I'm trying to raise awareness..." you've lost the sale.  And on top of that, you're starting to freak out because the person you're talking to is staring at you, considering every aspect and quality of your face and your appearance in general.  You're better off just wearing a ribbon or a rubber bracelet.

As you've surely guessed by now, I shaved off the mustache.  I just can't handle all of its associations right now.  Maybe next November, when I have more time to become psychologically prepared.  In the meantime, I just donated twenty bucks to Movember through the guys at DadCentric.  I think about seventy percent of their contributors (who are much brasher than I) are 'staching out to fight cancer this year, and you should go to their Movember page and donate something too.  You probably know other dudes who are doing it too, so you could donate to their page if you want.  In fact, you should ask anyone you see with a mustache if they are participating, and offer them money.  Or you can just go to the main Movember site and donate there.  Unless you hate men, in which case you should just sit on your hands.         


 ***

 *Note to pedants: I'm using the term "irony" to describe a detached, playful, noncommittal, "of course I'm kidding...or am I?" attitude.  Feel free to rant about how I and others misuse the word.  Just know that I don't care.  Or do I?

















36 comments:

  1. You shaved? Say it ain't so! Didn't you get the email? The Movember folks knew this was the week we'd all be questioning our hair growth. They knew about our insecurities. Oh, Mo Bro, I'm so saddened to hear you let those little voices in your head run the show. I'm still all in. Hope to see you next year. You had such a great thing going, even if you looked liked a perverted SOB.

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  2. Shaved it off?I was hoping to see a full Merv Hughes tache.

    I grew one in my Uni days like Merv.Looked a proper Charlie.I'm more of a sideburn man now.Mrs Jack says they can't go below the bottom of my ear,as apparently they tickle.

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  3. The lip fur needs balance. I suggest a soul patch or a jerk tag—your pick.

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  4. Yeah, I'm with you. I first heard about Movember a couple of weeks ago & considered taking part. Unfortunately, I caved due to threats of violence from Mrs. C if I ever grew one again - odd when you consider I sported one for the first ten years of our relationship. Next year, though, all bets are off.

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  5. As long as you don't start curling up the ends, you're free from hipster ridicule. I'm convinced that all the jabs at struggling stache growers are out of sheer jealously - they don't have the guts, you do. You carry on my good friend! You grow that mofo with intention! For research, for men everywhere, for... for something else too.

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  6. Your story reminds me of the time I was selling candy for my high school band and instead ate it all and then owed the school like $60. I had the BEST intentions...

    ~m

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  7. U have one smart wife...lol... btw how do we know u really did grow one????there is no proof...a maybe written fabrication of a wannabe stache, right?

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  8. Wuss.

    But, on behalf of the DadCentric team, thanks for the donation. I'll twirl my 'stache in your honor.

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  9. You definitely look like a criminal, but the kind where you think, "That guy would actually be pretty attractive if he wasn't totally sick in the head and he lost the mustache.."

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  10. Instead of "gay porn star from the seventies", I prefer the expression, "out-of-work porn star". We are in a recession after all.

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  11. @Cheryl--I never actually got as far as registering with Movember. I really needed a support network to pull this off. You keep fighting the good fight though!

    @Jacks--Holy cow! That is an awesome piece of work on that guy. It looks kind of like a red fox is sleeping on his lip. I would insure that thing too.

    @PV--I agree in terms of aesthetics. The soul patch tends to be subversive enough to balance out the possible nerdy connotations of the 'stache as well.

    @Vinny--Wow. She was a strong woman to tolerate it for so long. I don't know if you should push your luck.

    @Dr. C--Too late, pal. It's down the drain. I'll try again next year, and maybe get a "Free Mustache Rides" t-shirt while I'm at it.

    @M--That is pretty much exactly what I did with this. Except I didn't get any candy, only ridicule.

    @KBF--Are you kidding me? See--that's another reason I was hesitant to do this. What if I grew a mustache and no one noticed? That picture of me IS with mustache in full effect! I mean it was only 4 days' growth, but c'mon! Don't tell me you can't see a little something there! Maybe you need to adjust the brightness on your monitor.

    @Always--I know. I'll go for broke next year.

    @Anisa--I think you mean "criminal mastermind." Right?

    @David--Yeah. If you consider how much angst I had about growing a mustache, you can probably imagine that I would not be a very sought-after porn actor. Especially when there are plenty of guys who will work cheap. Or even pro-bono.

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  12. Coolness is king. If we can re-popularize and then monetize the horn-rimmed glasses style of the 40s and 50s again, can the cool factor for the male mustache be far away? I think you were just on the cusp of high style, but by shaving it off, you've delayed your epic rise to metrosexuality. Ready to regrow that puppy now?

    Heh.

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  13. @Beta: THAT IS YOU?? the huge profile shot w/eyes looking up?? oops, sowwy, u look different than your profile photo (of your blog).....In that case, u shoulda kept it... it looks good.

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  14. Well...at least you tried, right?

    What if I said you did look like a child molester, but that I'm being ironic? No? Doesn't quite work, huh? Shit.

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  15. P.S. - LOVE the new header. Hilarious.

    P.S.S. - You knew I was going to add a P.S.S that said, "Ha, I said header", didn't you? And if you didn't, what the hell? I thought we were friends!

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  16. if I were a man, I would totally rock the child molester stache.

    my father is a retired firefighter and he's had a mustache my entire life. everything from the Einstein stache to the traditional fireman stache. I wouldn't recognize my dad without one.

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  17. I fully support your decision to grow a mustache. And I extra bonus support your decision to shave it off. Just say no to porn star facial hair.

    Meanwhile, I've got more hair on my face right now than I've had on my head for the last several years. All to fight cancer. I'm pretty sure the rules call for 'stache-only cultivation, but I'm so afraid of how porny that will make me look that I'm putting off shaving the non-upper lip areas.

    I have to stand in front of students, for God's sake.

    P.S. Thanks for the DadCentric donation, of course.

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  18. I feel very torn about the stache. It was so very wrong and yet, endearing. And I am only comparing it to the teeny profile pic of you with the girls.

    Either way, you chipped in your part to fight cancer. Essentially, bought your way out of a hairy situation. Please don't bother to comment on that bit of lameness. Do I get a pass if I tell you I'm hopped up on Sudafed?

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  19. You did the right thing, homie.

    Also, you're braver than I am just for trying.

    These things always come back. One day, you'll have your chance.

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  20. My husband in the early years of our marriage had a mustache. He would shave it off and grow it back so fast; when people would ask me if he still had his mustache, I honestly sometimes couldn't remember! Yes, I lived with him!
    A mustache is not for everyone - you made the right decision!

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  21. Hey, you gave it more of a go than I did. Must hang my head in shame for not trying, and just make a Mo-nation.

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  22. I saw a picture of my hubby before we met with some sort of facial hair thing going on. Yep, Creepy 70's porn star. He has been banned from growing anything. Ever. Plus OUCH! Dont you guys realise it hurts when its all stabby?

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  23. I can't grow facial hair to save my life, but my father used to have a stache in the late 70s and early 80s that made him look exactly like Charles Bronson. If I could do that, I'd grow one in a heartbeat.

    But I have to agree, I'm not sure you're cut out to sport facial hair. Remember when you had that soul patch that evolved into a sort-of goatee in college? And do you remember what Carol said about it? It's not something I can repeat on a family website...

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  24. What about a goatee? Those are much less child molester-y. (Molester-ish?) And just involve a liiiiiitle bit more hair growth. Possible, no?
    PS- "Meta-mustache maelstrom"? Alliteration at its finest.

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  25. Grow it out. Grow it out! I like mustaches in that hipster ironic way, then occasionally I see a Selleck that actually creates a little tingle in my tangle, if you catch my drift. It's a bizarre response, but, really. I like the mustache craze. I mean, manly facial hair has a long and storied history.

    And it enables some laziness -- at least if you sign up for the full beard.

    In other news, I'm waiting for pubic hair to come back into fashion.

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  26. Growing facial hair is really nerve wracking. I remember when I decided a goatee was what I wanted. I was 23, and I was actually worried that my parents would be upset if you can believe that. Turns out, everyone thought it looked good on me, and 14 years later, it's still here. My wife has hated the couple of times I've shaved it. She even told me I couldn't take a job that had a no facial hair policy. I think she finds the goatee attractive, and not me!!! Good luck and your cause is awesome.

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  27. I'm so fuckin disappointed now! It was starting out so good! I'm dying to see what week 3 would have looked like. Now that I think of it, I need to go rent some 70's gay porn. Thanks for the reminder.

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  28. Oh boo. I think gay porn looks great on you!

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  29. Too funny. What is it about facial hair that makes everyone scream child molester?

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  30. I did not know about this Movember movement, or I would have told Mr. G! He has the opposite problem you do--his beard is so heavy it's like when Homer Simpson shaves in the morning, and before he steps out of the bathroom he has five o'clock shadow.

    One year, not for charity, but perhaps to be ironic (or was it?) he grew a moustache so long and full that he could wax it in spikes up to his eyeballs, Salvador Dali-style. It made for an excellent driver's license picture. Everyone from waiters to cops to cashiers laughs when they check his ID.

    If he could tell people, "I did it to raise awareness about men's cancer," I bet he'd never get a speeding ticket again!

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  31. I, like you, have not been blessed with awesome facial hair. I think I look more like a 9th grader trying to look older.

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  32. Maybe you should work on a Sideburn September for next year. Due to your being folically impaired, you could start now. Then you could grow those muttonchops you've been dreaming about. No embarrassing explanation there, since big bushy sideburns are always gazed upon with respect and admiration. Plus, as you well know, sideburns being grown en masse, would clearly solve all of the world's ills.

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  33. "meta-mustache maelstrom", hahhahhahhahahah! Awesome.

    I blame the estrogen in the water supply for the quantity of men who can no longer grow facial hair. Hubby tried for a Tony Stark goatee at one point and I laughed him out of it.

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  34. Dude, it takes more than four days to grow a decent mustache! It's like growing your hair out after having it all shaved off; you have a couple of weeks where you just want to give up and shave it all off again, then you finally start noticing that it doesn't look so bad, it's looking a little fuller, and the next thing you know, voila, hair!

    So... don't give up so soon! Give it two weeks before you give in to nerves! And I agree with the person who suggested a soul patch. That might help balance things out and give you... encouragement. Plus, the whole Shaggy/Scooby-Doo thing...

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  35. You look like you should be in an English WWII film.

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