Photo Credit - Nena Colbert
Facial hair has long been considered a rite of passage into manhood by many cultures. The car culture is no exception to this. Many great racing drivers through the years have sported fancy follicles, wonderful whiskers, and marvelous moustaches, the last one being my favorite. For me, Louis Chevrolet, racing driver and one of the founders of the Chevrolet Motor Company, epitomized the image of the gentleman's racing moustache.
Throughout puberty, the first bit of hair to sprout from my face was on my upper lip, much to my chagrin as I wished for a chin strap and soul patch. Thankfully, my tastes in hirsute fashion have matured and even though I could grow conceivably whatever I choose, I settled on something timeless.
I grew a handlebar moustache.
Now many of you may have grown a stache or two for Movember or Moustache March, but very few keep their flavor saver beyond the end of the month. I did. Actually, I started growing my current crop of crumb catchers back in October of last year, a few weeks before LSPR. I wanted enough length that by the end of November, I could curl the ends. This wasn't the first time I had grown some face foliage – back in April of last year I tried it out but was subsequently persecuted by my manager at the time, causing me to shave it after about 7 weeks of growth. This time around however, I was at a job that had very few restrictions on beard growth, save that it be tidy. And so it grew.
I'm now worn it for about 10 months, and I must say I've become quite attached to it. You could almost say it's grown on me. Every morning, one of the first things I do is neaten up and reorganize my lip doily. Some days, I wake up and it looks like a cat that was run over by a lawnmower and others, I wake up looking like Salvador Dali. You learn to be okay with not always having perfect curls. It makes the days it comes out perfectly on its own that much more special, I guess. I have figured out that drying it with a hairdryer while curling it between my thumb and forefinger immediately after showering does help immensely. My end goal is to maintain the size and shape worn by Greg T. Brown.
I do wax it on occasion, but waxing is a very time consuming endeavor. The hair is quite coarse so getting all of them to behave and act as one is no easy feat. I have tried buying wax, making my own, and using various hair products on it. In the end, I found that if I really want perfectly matched curls, Schwarzkopf Got2b Glued gives the best, most relentless hold and control. The flip-side of this is that it will make your face feel slightly off, because the hair is being firmly held in an unnatural state. Mostly, I end up with natural slightly chaotic curls.
Now if you plan on growing some facial furniture, I have a few suggestions. First, don't start with just the moustache. Grow a beard or goatee, or something along with it for at least the first month. I grew a pointy soul patch at first, a-la Guy Fawkes. This will help keep you from looking like a stereotypical child molester. Once the hair is long enough, you can shave the accessory off and focus on the stache (if that's what you want). Second, get a haircut to match the look. I went for a classic cut, the slicked back pomp with a side part and a mid fade. This will also help keep people from accusing you of paedophilia, and adds a certain playful eccentrism to your look. Third, don't play with it too much. I was very guilty of this at the beginning, because it was something new and strange. A quick comb through and a few twists in the morning should be enough to get it relatively neat, with an occasional pass to keep the hairs out of your mouth.
Which reminds me. It will get in your mouth. The hairs will mischievously attempt to sneak in while you're eating, or drinking, or snogging, or even when you're just sitting there minding your own business. This will be an exercise in patience, as the only remedy is to let it grow longer or cut it off.
The thing that I am always amazed by is the questions I am asked. By far, number one is "Is that real?". At first, my thought was "Of course its freaking real. Do you think I'm honestly going to walk about with a fake moustache glued to my face?" And then I went to the shopping mall the other day, and saw that people are actually silly enough to do that. So now, I've just gone to taking it as a compliment, that it actually looks good enough to pass as a fake. The second most asked question is probably "How long did it take you to grow that?" and third would be "Can I touch it?" Now this last question I don't get all that often (thankfully) but when I do, I am forced to explain that my face and anything on it is personal space and asking to touch something between my mouth and nose is simply not acceptable.
Throughout these past few months, I have noticed something very interesting. The moustache is universal. People of all ages, races, genders and orientations will comment, compliment and smile at it. I don't even have to be smiling at them, but as soon as they see it, their face lights up, you can see their amusement appear and then a genuine smile spreads across their face. And I think this is my favorite stache effect. When someone says "Hey, you don't see that everyday, now do ya?" with a chuckle, I know that for a brief second, they forgot the stresses of life and I made them smile. And I think everyone could stand to smile a bit more.
Photo of Louis Chevrolet credit - Chicago History Museum