Smash ’Stache Backlash

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good face must be in want of a moustache. Yet, for all its historic pride, prejudice against the once mighty moustache has never been greater.

To be clear, I’m not referring to any of the following: beard, goatee, soul patch, Fu Manchu, chin puff, imperial, Van Dyke, Zappa or any other variety of furrier facial hair — each with its own champions and detractors — but rather an old-school, above-the-lip soup strainer.

Only tacitly permitted on policemen, and grandfathered-in on grandfathers, a man’s moustache is likely to provoke one of two equally disturbing reactions: adult film star or sex offender; or worse yet, hipster.

Why the long face for short whiskers? My take: In this ironic age, no one could be seriously serious about sporting a ’stache. There’s just too much cultural baggage — from stoic, sepia-toned serfs to fuzzy-faced fascists — for a moustache on a modern face to be perceived as anything but conceit.

Tattoos earn their presence through perpetuity and gender equality has propagated piercings, but moustaches are trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy of parody.
Tarnation! It’s high time to take a stand for the ’stache. Or, as the moustachioed Mahatma Gandhi actually said, “be the shave you wish to see in the world.” So, I’m putting my upper lip where my mouth is this month, which has become known by many a manly-man as “Movember.”

Jest? Surely I don’t. As ruggedly relayed at movember.com, “During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the U.S. and around the world. With their Mos, these men raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.”

So, if you see me sipping a slow-brew coffee at Corktown’s Astro, shooting the duck at Bonaventure or ordering up some faux-Hebrew shirts at Brody’s, don’t be alarmed. Who knows — it might actually look good.

The Jewish ’stache, after all, has a rich tradition highlighted by the likes of Albert Einstein and Mark Spitz. Occam’s Razor Blade, however, suggests I will look fully foolish, given failed former facial-hair forays — and the way-recessive pirate genes make much of my beard red.

Wonder what you would look like with some whimsical whiskers? Thanks to Summer in the City friend Ian Charnas, you barely need wander to turn that wonder into want. Ian created LiveStache (livestache.com), an iPhone app that uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to digitally paint a moustache on any face it detects. According to Ian, “This past year, I grew a handlebar moustache, and I was overwhelmed by the positive comments I got from both friends and strangers,” he said. “They really liked it and I thought, ‘I want to give the world a moustache.’”

Will we live to see a day in which the moustache reclaims a place of masterful, mainstream machismo on the mantels of our mouths? I’ll stumble into my stubble-a-thon the day after Halloween; but, however sweet, this is neither trick nor treat. There’s no saying if 30 days hath Movember. Instead, this could be the beginning of a beautiful fur-iendship. Or, for follicles’ sake, I might have to take a page out of the Book of Groucho, that moustached maven’s manual: Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them … well, I have others.

In the meantime, you can check out my progress and support the cause at MoBro.co/falik.

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