Saturday, October 27, 2012

The down-low on moustaches

NOTE: For a roundup on moustache fun for everyone, check on the Sunday Nov. 4 Las Cruces Sun-News SunLife cover By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — What do mustaches mean to you? While putting together today’s feature, I was reflecting on my own experience with the mustachioed. I remember that my mom thought Errol Flynn’s pencil-thin mustache was dashing and my sister had a crush on Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, but other than before-my-time movie idols, I don’t recall anybody in my real life having any sort of hirsute upper lips when I was growing up. That all changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when everybody seemed to have hair: long, beautiful hair, any place they could grow it. It was a fashion statement. A protest against the clean-shaven status quo. A lifestyle choice. Even a hit musical. Suddenly, all our boyfriends, and later our hubbies, had moustaches, along with beards, and what I remember most about that era is whiskerburn ... lots of it, in the best of times. And in the worst of times ... well, as noted, hair was a symbol of so much for the flower power, Baby Boomer, protest generation. My long-time lawfully-wedded roommate would stop trimming and start growing hair when he felt rebellious, domesticated, or otherwise in need of change and adventure. When yearnings for a new job or a promotion or generally upwardly mobile life change came up, out would come the razor. As a psych minor and journalist, naturally I was interested in what it all meant, and that was far from clear. Some feel mustachioed men are more manly and assertive, so confident that they don’t mind —and may even want — the extra attention that comes from a large, elaborately groomed display of facial hair. Others feel a man with a moustache has something to hide, or wants to hide, himself. Maybe Sigmund Freud would have said that sometimes, a moustache is just a moustache. But then, Sigmund had a very ample face full of hair himself, so I’m not sure we could count on him to be objective. After pondering a lot of guys and their moustaches (along with the occasional rebel and anomaly like Frida Kahlo, a woman who seemed downright proud of her ‘stache), I’m inclined to think it just depends. Moustaches mean different things to different people at different times in their lives. It seems like there was a long dearth of moustaches there for a while. That was just one reason that our former city editor Charles Brunt was memorable, but his impressive waxed ‘stache and his VILLAIN personalized license plate certainly made their mark. So much so, that we all decided to don fake handlebar moustaches for his farewell party, and somewhere, we have the multi-mustachioed pictures to prove it. Not long ago, I was surprised when my soulmate met me at the airport sporting an impressive ‘stache. It was his first in nearly three decades, since his intern days, before we met. He’d spent some time at sea on a research ship and it seemed like something to do, he said. “And besides, I wanted to see if I could still grow some hair somewhere on my head,” he quipped. He could, and so can a lot of his contemporaries, many of them former flower children who are retired now. They don’t have to shave to fit any corporate standards, so why should they? And if they can recapture a bit of their youthful spirit of adventure with a soup├žon of macho flair and derring-do in the process, why not? Is it a fair trade, maybe even a no-brainer? Razor burn, propriety and conformity for freedom, a new look and a new outlook on life. I watched the new holiday perfume ads featuring Brad Pitt, now sporting a beard and moustache, and thought about Errol and Clark, dashing and swashbuckling through their very long primetimes. It all comes down to the guy behind the ‘stache, of course. But all in all, whisker burn is a small price to pay; it’s worth it to have the right mustachioed man in your life. S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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