A mustache monologue

In my 22 years on this earth, I’ve never seen my father without his mustache. I’m convinced he was born with it or that he’s managed to hide every single photo of himself prior to his ‘stache years.

Part of me is glad he never decided to shave the hair above his lip because I probably wouldn’t recognize him. The other part of me is amazed. Just why did this guy decide to tout the same facial hair for so many years? Why did he stick with the mustache?

That’s what I set out to discover when I shaved part of my 4-month-old beard Saturday. But little did I know what mustache hatred I would encounter.

In the past week, I’ve heard superstache, scumstache and statetrooper- stache used multiple times to describe my hairy friend.

At first I found the commentary hilarious – now I’m convinced it’s a mild form of discrimination.

What the heck is wrong with a well-groomed mustache on a young lad?

In days of yore, no one would make snide remarks in front of a man wielding a finely-trimmed ‘stache because most of the people who chose to don mustaches were imposing, power-hungry figures. Just look at Genghis Khan, Joseph Stalin and Walt Disney. Would they take that kind of remark? I don’t think so.

I probably won’t meet too many women this week, but based on some random conversations I had on Wednesday, it could have nothing to do with my mustache.

“I like facial hair on men,” USF student Angela Paree said. “I think it’s attractive, but it depends on how they sport it and it depends on the person. Some people can’t wear them very well; some people can.”

Elisa McQueen, a biomedical science major, said mustaches were OK as long as they’re grown in full.

“For some of the younger guys – it just looks scummy,” she said.

But political science major Noa Michaeli said she would rather avoid dating men with mustaches.

“You don’t ever want to date a guy with a beard or mustache that still has powdered sugar from the cookie he ate during lunch,” she said.

Steve Deal, who has owned Steve’s Haircuts in Tampa for 15 years and proudly sported a mustache for more than 30, has noticed the decline in mustache popularity.

“You don’t see them like you used to today, but I’ve seen more and more sideburns,” Deal said. “If you look at the trend right now, all you hear on the radio are these ads for laser hair removal. No one’s into facial hair anymore.”

It’s sad but true. I made the same assumptions four months ago and decided to promote male facial hair growth by instigating the first annual Oracle Beard-Off competition, posting fliers around the newsroom welcoming all to join the competition.

The turnout – with more than eight enthusiastic, hirsute contestants – was more than I’d hoped for. Five people made it past the one-month requirement, but a week after that, nearly everyone had shaved.

Initially, I promised awards and a judging competition for categories such as fullness, longest-running, ugliest and worst attempt.

But my life got a little too busy, and I never organized a time for judging. I got rid of all the categories but one: the longest-running beard. When contestants found that out, nearly everyone decided to shave.

A couple weeks later, discussions concerning a Mustache-Off circulated around the office, but no one took up the challenge.

When I seriously started talking about setting up a mustache challenge, most of them cowered, fearful of the their girlfriends’ inevitable fury. Disheartened, I decided to go it alone, hopeful I would revive a look tailored to men in their 40s and 50s.

After living five days with a mustache, I would caution those considering the look.

But if you ask my father, who has proudly donned a mustache for more than 35 years, a ‘stache is far more attractive than a goatee, the preferred facial hair style of today.

“I never thought they were very attractive,” he said. “They just never looked attractive to me at all.”