When I first heard of “Movember,” an international charity event that raises awareness of men’s health issues by encouraging men around the world to grow moustaches during November, I thought for a moment I’d let my own whiskers blossom this month.
But just for a moment.
That’s not to say I didn’t really want to participate. It’s just that I can’t.
I’m one of the rare men who, despite being four months shy of my 35th birthday, doesn’t have the ability to grow a proper mustache.
Several years back, during a 10-day holiday break from work, I decided not to shave. The goal, for comedy’s sake, was that I’d return to the newsroom a moustachioed man. But while my beard filled in nicely across most of my face, one of my coworkers kindly pointed out just how obvious it was that the moustache was “lagging behind.” I’m sure Abe Lincoln <I>could<I> have grown a moustache, but not me.
The next year I didn’t shave for a month to prepare for a Halloween costume that required a nice thick goatee. In the end, I would have been better off just drawing one with a brown Crayola crayon.
Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the 1980s that I always wanted to grow a moustache.
Born a Mets fan, unfortunately, I wanted nothing more than the ability to grow my own Keith Hernandez. I’d have even settled for a Wally Backman or a Terry Leach.
And it wasn’t just in baseball where I grew jealous of men with hair above their upper lips. Everywhere I looked as a kid it seemed someone was rocking a moustache. Magnum P.I. used his to reel in the ladies on TV, John Oates of Hall and Oates fame fought off “maneaters” with his — and who could forget the glory of Hulkmania? Even “Weird” Al Yankovic had a nice moustache.
I can remember as a kid praying I’d one day be able to grow facial hair. Instead, God gave me body hair in all the places that aren’t cool. If it were possible to style a nice moustache out of triceps hair, I’d be a real modern-day Burt Reynolds.
Of course it didn’t help growing up when my good friend Matt was already using an electric razor in the fifth grade. By the time we were in high school we all still looked like kids, while he looked liked Andy Sipowicz. As I was writing this column this week, I texted Matt to see how long it would take him to grow a moustache. His wife responded, “He could grow one in five minutes.” If I had Matt’s hair-growing abilities, I’d pull a Rollie Fingers one month and a ZZ Top the next. Instead, Matt joked, I’m like Benjamin Button, becoming more and more baby-faced the older I get.
So it’s smarted a bit the past couple months as I had to watch the Boston Red Sox relish the power of a fine October beard last month, followed by the sweet “Movember” moustaches growing all around me this month — including a group of about 20 police officers who decided to let their moustaches grow out and pitch in an entry fee to help out one local family in need. The officers are also selling pins to people who want to help the cause.
It’s certainly nice to know there are people out there picking up the slack for me, but sadly, I won’t be celebrating “Movember” again this year. For me it’s just plain old “November” — as in no ability to grow a moustache.
Grant Parpan is the executive editor of Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 631-354-8046.