Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have finally discovered what has led to the good fortune showered upon me during my lifetime. Years ago I thought it was marrying Kristin, a smart, hardworking girl who had great potential from salary and childbearing perspectives. Later it was working for Automatic Data Processing, with its stock options for upper management and the life skills it taught me, like how to fire people without feeling guilty.

Now I have figured out what has truly been my lucky charm, and it turns out I’ve been carrying it around since I was fifteen years old.

Yes, the 1977 version was a wispy and laughable amusement, but ever since I first let the hair between my nose and upper lip grow unimpeded, things have been going great.

Perhaps calling that eighth grade atrocity a mustache is being too generous, but it shows up in pictures from that era. So it was either a mustache or a shadow or a bit of dirt. Pardon my ego stroking if I’m sticking with the first option.

During my high school years I was led to believe that the whiskers were the key to girls. At least that’s what the guys with facial hair said. I did ask a few girls out, and a few said yes, but usually within a short period of time they would discover that there was really nothing of interest besides the mustache. Then the girls would go off to find another boy with perhaps a thicker, more luxuriant lip warmer.

Or maybe the other boys were more interesting. Could that be it?

I shaved on occasion, but that was just to knock down the weeds, so to speak. The first real removal of an honest-to-goodness mustache was at the end of my senior year, when I shaved off the whole thing along with my first attempt at a beard and, for some peculiar reason, put the trimmings in a box and presented it to one of the guidance counselors at school.

I’m sure she thought I was the creepiest guy to ever pass through those hallowed halls, but she always liked my older sister so she forgave me. I think.

During the ensuing thirty years or so, I have had a mustache and beard combo for probably 363 days out of every 365. I cut it all off every once in a while, but typically it begins growing back in a matter of hours. I don’t like what I see in the mirror when I have nothing to hide behind.

The American Mustache Institute (yes, there really is such an entity, dedicated to “fighting discrimination against mustached Americans”) has a veritable laundry list of great mustachioed men, their worldly accomplishments, and how having a mustache improves not only the life of the wearer, but the lives of all with whom he comes in contact. The AMI also recently reported that those of us with hair under our nose earn 4.3% more than the clean-shaven.

Hooray! This is why I have a mustache, to better fill my retirement accounts. I’ve heard that taller people make more than the vertically challenged (another notch in my favor), and reportedly people of my gender earn more than the opposite sex (although not in my house). Once again, everything was going my way. Then I read the bad news: the mustached fellows actually earn 8.2% more than those with a beard.

Egads! How horrible! Just when I thought I was doing all right, I learn that my beard is likely holding me back. If I had stuck with a ‘stache by itself, not only would I look like Tom Selleck or Hulk Hogan but I could have retired at 35. Why, or why, did I ever grow a beard?

Oh yeah, the reason that I maintain facial hair to this very day is that I am just too lazy to shave regularly, despite the fact that the AMI says I’d be richer with a chin that showed. They also taunt the bearded among us, claiming that we spend three percent of our income on beard combs and lice removal kits—a number that I dispute most vociferously.

It turns out that the American Mustache Institute, while defending the mustached against discrimination, actually discriminate against those of us with beards. They call my facial hair a “spousal compromise,” and claim that I am not man enough to go with just a mustache, a lip brow, a soup strainer.

Shame on you, AMI, we should be working toward unity and not fomenting discord, or making silly lists of mustache euphemisms (lip hugger, push broom, face sweater, hair snake, etc.). Everyone with facial hair should feel welcome in your little club.

Even the ladies.

1 comment:

  1. Matt,

    Thank you for your comments on the American Mustache Institute and our platform. Indeed, you have made us take a deep look in the mirror and see our failings.

    We hope that you will consider returing to our community, as you are, indeed, man enough to be one of us.

    Carry on.

    Dr. Abraham Jonas Froman
    Chief Executive Officer
    American Mustache Institute