Thursday, September 6, 2007


or, Another way in which I don't measure up...

Much to my amusement, I discovered today that there exists an institute dedicated to "protecting the rights of, and fighting discrimination against, mustached Americans by promoting the growth, care, and culture of the mustache." The American Mustache Institute has a snappy logo, a website and (I presume) a headquarters of some sort. They participate in mustache-awareness events, such as their recent " 'Stache Bash '07", compile mustache related news stories, honor mustachioed celebrities, and provide financial support to charities. They do seem to have a bit of a sense of humour about the whole thing, which is nice.

Alas, it is a club that I do not believe I could join. The fact is, I am incapable of growing a significant mustache. Mind you, I don't have any burning desire to wear a mustache. In fact, I have a couple nice theatrical ones that I could always spirit gum to my upper lip if the need should arise. However, whenever I allow my own facial hair to grow--on occasion it was required of me for a theatrical endeavor, sometimes I've just let it grow to see what would happen, and most often, i was just too lazy to shave--the result is less than impressive.

As a young boy on the cusp of puberty, a mustache seemed to me an outward expression of my approaching manhood. If I could grow a mustache, people would understand that I was growing in other ways. Besides, it was the early-mid '80's. Magnum P.I. was still on, and Tom Selleck was considered desirable. I'm not sure anyone really noticed my facial hair. There are some bad photos floating around (assuming I didn't destroy them all) in which I look a bit like Joseph Gribble from King of the Hill (with poofier hair). Eventually, I realized how bad this looked, and took to shaving regularly. At the time, regularly meant once a week.

I was about 18 when I complained to my brother's then-girlfriend that I hated to shave, and wished I could do it less often (I was up to about three times a week at that point). She suggested I wax my mustache, as it would do a better job than a razor, and would last longer between treatments. I had to let my facial hair grow as the burns on my upper lip healed. I never tried that again.

Once I could shave again, I did it very regularly for the next few years. And then I was cast as Rosencrantz in a college production of Hamlet. All the men in the cast were instructed to allow their facial hair to grow. By the time the production opened some months later (it was an abnormally long production cycle from casting to opening night), there were varying thicknesses and lengths of beards and mustaches. I was one of the oldest cast members, however, I had to use makeup to enhance my beard for the show. (I have a photo from that time...I'll try to dig it up and post it.) A year or so later, I faced a similar situation when I played Mordred in Camelot, and again a couple years later as Dogberry in Much Ado about Nothing. The only saving grace during that period of time in my life was that it was during the grunge era, and there was a LOT of bad facial hair around.

Somewhere in this period of time, I also took to shaving my head every so often. This was when I was playing in a couple bands, and for some reason, a lot of bass players seemed to have shaved heads and wore goatees. This isn't why I shaved my head (I really just liked it). But Maht (of MoonTopples fame) joked that all the bands we liked had bald bass players with goatees, and I would tell him that I could deliver a bald bass player, but couldn't do much about the goatee.

Currently, I grow facial hair quickly enough that I really ought to shave every day, but I still only do it every other day. If I feel like it. I will let it go for a few days if I'm feeling particularly lazy. However, it is clear to me that while my facial hair does grow a little bit fuller than it did 13 years or so ago when I did Hamlet, there are still some significant gaps that haven't filled in.

For me to achieve mustache success on the level of a Tom Selleck or Salvador Dali, I will have to rely on my glue-on one. Perhaps I could even wear it to the next 'Stache Bash and do a little reconnaissance...


Chris said...

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of facial hair if only for the completely selfish reason of it can leave some nasty whisker burn when making out with a guy. Not that I'm planing to make out with you... I'm just sayin'

basest said...

I'm not saying that I want facial hair...only that if i wanted to grow some, I couldn't. And the good people at the American Mustache Institute would never accept me as one of my own.

However, in light of your whisker burn complaint, perhaps I can consider my inability to grow adequate facial hair an evolutionary advantage.