(not Ben or his father)

Myfather, a friendly, if somewhat dowdy, employee of the federal government, has always sported a mustache, prompting endless ridicule from members of his family. Some say he was born with it, but throughout the years, we’ve all been united in our efforts to get him to shave it off. For me, that all changed this month. For those of you who weren’t aware, Mustache March is upon us. If you’ve been walking around town wondering why you’re seeing young men sporting everything from peach fuzz dirt stains to brushy handlebars on their upper lips, well, now you know.

Wanting to avoid the peach fuzz phase altogether, I began my mustache quest preemptively with Furry February, sporting a ratty beard that made hippies and rabbis alike narrow their eyes in jealous scrutiny when I walked by. Let’s face it: Beards are manly, but a strip of hair sitting prominently on your upper lip is the very definition of masculinity. There’s a degree of boldness to it that no other form of facial hair can approach. How else do you think Robert Goulet was able to extend the crooner era long past its obvious death? It was because he had a mustache. There are many different styles, but they all say one thing: “I’m a man.”

Since I’ve been sporting the ‘stache, I’ve been looked at differently. Police, firefighters, Mexican day laborers, and other guys employed in macho professions have looked at me differently. That look is one of, dare I say it, respect? Of course, on the downside, I’ve noticed that I have to be very careful when driving near a school. Not that the mirror-tint aviators and the beater car make matters better, but I get the vibe that a significant number of PTA members might be inclined to misidentify me as someone listed on the sex offender registry. Other things I’ve been called run the gamut from ’70s porn star/coke dealer to used car salesman to plain ol’ redneck. Life has changed since I grew the ‘stache, giving me a unique insight into my dad’s reasons for clinging to that anachronistic symbol of masculinity.


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