Everyone loves to win – but after the confetti has stopped falling from the rafters, what else is there? In this case, a wicked mustache and a vague sensation of unease.
By Robert Fure
You know, my dad always told me my mouth would get me in trouble – and he was right. Though I’m not certain he ever figured that the area just above my mouth would win me $40 from an office pool. The strange tale of M-M-M-Mustache Mania 08 began with a screening of Magnum, PI that, predictably, sparked a conversation about mustaches.
That talk quickly spiraled out of control and my mouth ran wild and before I knew it, I had entered into a pact with 7 of my co-workers to grow a mustache. Not one to stop at the only slightly absurd, I ran my mouth again about the high quality that my mustache would be and opened the flood gates of lip-rug trash talk.
Three weeks later the big day had arrived amid much laughter and fanfare, the office was electric with anticipation. Several of us took it upon ourselves to sell the characters with accessories from cowboy hats to cigarettes. My natural ability to come across as a douchebag was perfectly illustrated in my somewhat elaborate costume which consisted of a wifebeater shirt underneath a Correctional Officer’s uniform, dark aviator glasses, and a tiny mustache comb, with which I compulsively used to straighten my stache. Partially due to my costuming and partially due to my awesome mustache, which I boldly described as “the mustache of a Norse god,” I won the contest.
There was clapping and then… Shame? I’m not quite sure.
The positives – I won a mustache growing contest. Yes! I won $40 bucks. Awesome!
The negatives – I won a mustache growing contest. A poll of the females present revealed the mustache was not respected. Bummer.
Winning a contest in which you are basically the best at something no one likes is a double edged sword. It’s like a pie eating contest – you’re happy you won, but you look like a pig and just ate some 20,000 calories of blueberry filling and pastry crust.
So what’s wrong with the mustache? Why does my victory feel somewhat shallow? Among men, the mustache is a badge of pride. Not everyone can grow one and even then, some can not grow very nice ones. We’re not all Tom Selleck. But in a way, we all want to be. There is a part of every man that wants to sport that badge of masculinity on his upper lip and topple a tree with one mighty swing of an ax. Or outdraw the bad guy and fire off six rounds as if we were Wyatt Earp. After all, we have facial hair in common. And honestly, as we men stood together, I felt like a king. That is, right until the girls started giggling.
Girls view the mustache as dirty or scratchy, something they don’t want brushing against them. Have they ever felt it? Ha! Who knows. Probably not, but they view it with disdain most often. When asked if the mustache is a “deal breaker” they giggle and squirm, saying yes with their bodies but trying to lighten the blow with their words. Why can’t we as men have mustaches? Women do all sorts of stupid things and wear all sorts of ridiculous items. The mustache is a men’s fashion accessory. If women can wear Uggs or big bug-eyed sunglasses then we men should be able to have any facial hair we want. Hell, I think we can all agree that just about any mustache is more attractive than a pair of Crocs.
So it is with mixed emotions that I accepted the award for best mustache and the responsibilities that come with it. A sense of pride, but also one of nagging paranoia, that someone is watching, and judging. The mustache will make me strong. It is a blonde badge of courage, displayed on my face – and in everyone elses. A few days later, I was faced with a decision – show up to work with the award-winning stache or shave it off, like many of the others who decided to abandon their hair-badges. I made the only decision that felt right – to stand up for all our mustache clad brothers and keep it. After all, mustaches don’t just grow on our faces, they grow on our hearts.