I ‘get’ the ‘Movember’ thing, sort of. You know the symbolic gesture by otherwise clean-shaven men to festoon their upper lips and sometimes their chinny-chin-chins with a bouquet of hair.
I get it, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it and now that November is over I am only hoping that the males of my community revert to shining faces unadorned.
Not to suggest for a minute it isn’t all for a good cause. Prostate cancer takes a sad toll on the male population and I am of an age wherein if I’m taking too long to pee at 3 a.m. my mind goes to a potentially lethal cause. So, in that regard I’m prepared to put up with the indignity of that old (ahem) digital probe.
*Guy goes to the doctor for a physical. Doctor does the digital prostate check and tells him all is OK. But then the fellow says: “Say, Doc, would you mind doing that again using a different finger?” The doctor asks him why. “Because I’d like a second opinion.”
Anyway, all sorts of males as testament to this concern are prepared to grow out their whiskers in what are usually workplace-oriented fundraising competitions for prostate cancer research. Ironically, a lot of the competitions are organized by women in assorted offices. But that’s neither here nor there.
All that it means is masses of normally decent looking and well-kempt men end up looking like winos and bums for the 30 days of November. That’s mainly because, with some notable exceptions, men don’t look all that well with beards and especially moustaches.
Staches simply do not work for most. They can give an evil and sinister look to many men (it may be worthy of note that no US president since Teddy Roosevelt ever was elected if he happened to be mustache adorned. Thomas E. Dewey came closest and pundits believe that the mustache sapped his credibility in Middle America. Made him look like a riverboat gambler not a dude you could trust.
I grew one once and even have some old photos somewhere showing me with sort of a blondish mess beneath my nose. It looked horrible and did not last long. I later opted for a full beard, which looked better – but not much.
But, for some, the mustache is an almost essential accouterment. It ‘works’. It works to the degree that the normal mustache wearer looks naked and ineffectual without it.
Who are the great mustache-wearers of our culture?
Clark Gable: In his early films, like It Happened One Night, he was clean-shaven. Thus, he was an able enough actor, but not necessarily thrilling. But then the mustache came in the late 1930s, and nobody could conceive of Rhett Butler having the panty-wetting dash he did were he devoid of the mustache.
Tom Selleck: The poor-man’s Gable in many respects would never have been Magnum if he had been cleanly shorn. If seen him in the odd vehicle without one and it just doesn’t work.
Sam Elliot: Generally given to playing grizzled cowboys these days, the dude defines what a wonderful retro full mustache should be. How could you not trust a man who looked like that? Again, clean-shaven he is pretty much nothing, but in full bloom, it all works.
Groucho Marx: Good old Groucho. In his early stage and film work he was minus moustache, but the image of having one worked so well for him that he painted it on. Later, in You Bet Your Life days, the mustache was for real. The Groucho leer would have never worked without it.
George Clooney: Sometimes he’s had one, sometimes he hasn’t. The bastard would look good in anything, alas. I hate males that even other males can recognize as being too good looking for their own good.
Burt Reynolds: In the days when he still had some credibility – and prior to some atrocious cosmetic surgery – Burt had a certain amount of dashing impact. Again he has been both clean-shaven and moustached. Moustached always worked better.
Grandpa Walton: Of course. All good grandpas have trustworthy looking mustaches. Both of mine did.
By the way, I am not planning to grow one. It would still look awful on me.