As one of the mustache’s few contemporary wearers, I often find myself confronting the controversial grooming choice and its implications on a daily basis. How many times have I been told, by my girlfriend, that she likes the beard better? Girls have repeated this sentiment so much that it’s become a part of their common platform. And how many times must I be reminded that I look like I belong in a ’70s porno? Actually, one of the more creative ones I recently got was that I looked like one of Saddam’s generals. They did seem to all have that big, bushy mustache. I’ll take it, if the alternative is having a thin mustache reinforced with black pencil marks.
When men first walked the earth, presumably, they let their hair grow. Why shave it? What is shaving? Facial hair changes the character of how your face feels – but if you’ve forgotten the feel of a clean-shaven face, it’s unlikely you’d be eager to return to it. And then, at some point, the obvious discovery was made that one can not only trim his beard – he can shave the whole thing off, given a sharp enough blade. And this shaving pioneer scraped his hand across his stubble, now cut to a fraction of a millimeter in length, and said ahhhh.
And then, it seems to me – if historical paintings and photographs are anything to go off – that the mustache really first made an appearance in the 1800s, along with its cousin, the goatee. Facial hair could get pretty wacky back in the day- think Civil War photos. Why did men decide that a strip of hair left atop the lips, and no other facial hair, was preferable?
No doubt some tremendous scholarly work has been done on the subject, and is yet to be done. But I pose these reasons as to why I choose to shave the rest of my face, leaving behind only the mustache.
Follow me for a second: A man with a beard could just be lazy. He might think that shaving is too much of a hassle. Let’s take a moment of silence for all the truly devoted beard curators out there, who fuss over their beards like a sculptor crafting his art. Let’s appreciate their commitment to:
- Special hair-care products, like shampoos and balms
- Tackling the difficulty of “beard dandruff” – nobody wants to find skin on their pizza in place of Parmesan
- The minutes and hours required to get this beard looking good in the morning
- Sharp razors and trimmers which must be maintained
- A mountain of beard hair clogging up the sink
So, if you want to rock the beard and not obsess over it, you take the lazy route – trim the neck and cheeks once in a while, and maybe trim the whiskers when you approach Santa Claus territory. That’s not a bad choice. That used to be my choice. But unless you’ve worn a beard, you won’t know the feeling of beard hurt – the nagging, annoying feeling of having hair hang off your face. It’s painful in the way your legs hurt after walking up a large flight of stairs. Beards don’t feel good. They bug you after a while.
But, let’s not do away with facial hair altogether. After all, a man who has no facial hair might not be capable of growing it at all. And if he is, and clearly so, then the beard section of his face is perpetually gray. He has Homer Simpson face. Did you ever think it was weird that the animators of The Simpsons chose to make Homer forever living in the shadow of five o’clock? Do you think that was a conscious decision? And as lovable as he may be – does anyone want to pattern themselves after Homer Simpson?
The man who wears a mustache is in control of his face. He does not let his hair run wild, he does not desperately, constantly trim at hair which grows back in before the day is over. He does not kick his facial hair, pathetically begging it to “do something.” He wears his hair how he wants. And it’s that simple.
I can hear you – ah, but this description also fits the goatee, no? Quite right, although I think we all prefer the full beard to the goatee. There’s something I can’t shake about goatees – like the wearer either should be a Marxist intellectual or starring in a music video from 1997. It looks instantly dated. There’s something dirty and sinister about them – and they also require much more attention than the average mustache. Some men wear the mustache better than others, but it’s a look I would be in favor of bringing back. But I don’t really care for now. I’ll wear it, despite my girlfriend’s protests. She’ll have to get over it.
P.S. – “You look like a ’70s porn star” is to mustaches what “Play ‘Freebird'” is to live musicians. It’s not clever, and you didn’t think of it yourself. Have you even seen enough ’70s porn to be confident that your assertion is accurate? Also, I hear it used to describe every mustache, regardless of size, shape, or type. Not every mustache is a ’70s porn ‘stache. It’s not only an inaccurate observation – it’s a lazy crutch used to deflect genuine confrontation of facial hair choices. Knock it off.
P.P.S – Oh boy, I just had to go there. Yes, many of the most evil men of the 20th Century wore mustaches. You know which ones I’m talking about, I trust. But many great men also wore them – think Freddie Mercury, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, Charlie Chaplain, Walter Cronkite, Alex Trebek (before his mental faculties betrayed him), Mark Twain, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Frank Zappa, Sam Elliot, the great Carl Weathers – you can fill the rest of the list out for yourself. Therefore, I can draw no correlation. Maybe if your world leader decides to wear one, I can see where people get nervous. But thank God Mariano Rajoy is out of office. That beard – dirty!