Pop Culture

We Moustache You All a Question: Where Do We Go from Here?

This past weekend at Free Press Summer Fest, moustaches were all the rage, like the ones growing on some of the festival-goers (like my friend Charlie above), and on shirt designs, sunglasses and other carnival fare. Our fashion experts here on Art Attack snapped a picture of Charlie for a blog on FPSF style.

There was even a "free moustache ride" in the middle of Eleanor Tinsley Park fashioned from an old-school seesaw that got plenty of traffic from men and women of all ages. But mostly women, because a lot of straight guys don't want to ride a moustache, at least not when their dude-friends are around. I took a ride on it, but no one would accompany me. I did not teeter nor did I totter, I sat motionless and rejected.

As I walked through the park with my girlfriend this weekend, I heard her bemoan all the moustache paraphernalia as tired and boring. Mind you, this is the same woman who has moustache-printed pin glasses and some other gags in her possession at home. When she met me, I had my own waxed 'stache, too.

I was one of those guys. I combed it in front of friends at bars, in traffic and while I watched television.

Most of my man friends have moustaches or long beards. I have heard people call facial hair lazy, a blessing and the calling card of a slacker. For some of us, it masks a fat face or acne scars. I am blessed with both of those, and a hatred for shaving.

One of my bestest friends has a moustache that makes strangers -- mostly women -- stop him in his tracks in an attempt to tug at it. It's become his trademark at this point. When people see him out and about but don't know his name, they say, "Your one friend with the really nice moustache." It's kind of cool.

In the past few years, all things moustache have become all the rage. Maybe hipsters realized that they didn't cost a dime to grow, and maybe some of us just decided that we wanted to remember and smell what we last ate or drank.

For me, when I sport just the soup-strainer solo without a beard, I look ridiculously and eerily like my father circa his late twenties. The first time I came to visit him with a long 'stache I had grown out, he gave me his old 'stache kit from the '80s, and it was tantamount to him handing over an heirloom.

Since I am bald (high-five God!) and shave my head close, when I have the solo 'stache, I also look like a circus strongman from the '20s, a curse that I have used to advantage once or twice.

Some people's careers frown on facial hair, or their genetics preclude them. My younger brother can't grow much more than a few sprouts on his face, so maybe the trait skipped a child in our family.

Time was, though, that moustaches were for cops, dads and leather daddies. Beards were for mountain men, folk singers and Bob Ross. The closest approximation to the moustache cult of the '10s is the '90s grunge goatee, sported by Kurt Cobain, Dante from Clerks and Evil Spock.

Somehow Brad Pitt has made the wispy goatee work for him his whole career. The Houston Astros' Jeff Bagwell had a kingly goatee while he played first base.

Then there is the chinstrap beard, for dudes in hardcore bands, guys who can't grow hair on their upper lip, and the Amish. Only a few years ago did long, crazy beards turn into a metalhead thing.

I have a friend who makes a Van Dyke look great, and a few who have attempted and failed the Lemmy-style "Franz Josef" moustache and sideburns profile. I have met some soul patches, a few Zappas and one or two Hitlers, but that was in Austin and you could smell the irony off the douche a mile away. Remember when Michael Jordan had a Hitler 'stache? What was that about?

But what's next in men's facial hair? It may all depend on where the hair on the top of our heads goes.

Could '90s Luke Perry sideburns make another go? After all, guys are rocking pseudo-pompadours again. A quick look at current punk-rock style will show you oodles of dudes slapping pomade into their scalps for that perfect greaser look. Goes great with hand tattoos, I hear.

In the wake of shows like Boardwalk Empire, it seems that the shaved-on-the-side-and-long-on-the-top look is a winning fashion these days. Some folks call it the Win Butler, the David Lynch, an undercut; whatever it is, it's everywhere, even on Ryan Gosling. That one usually goes well with a clean-shaven face, though. Or a well-manicured...here we go...moustache.

Of course for us guys, what really matters is what the women (and some men) think of your facial hair. Ladies, what do you think?

(For future reference, always read your crowdsourcing tweets and posts out loud and triple-check them. For a brief and shining minute, it looked as if I was asking where people would like....okay, I forgot the word "hair" after "facial." My friends are gross.)

Some women fully embrace the bearded look, with one gal chiming in, "A beard in the winter carries his smell when I hug him after work," but she did add that a clean-shaven man welcomes "a little strange." Most of the beard-lovers said they would accept scraggly, trimmed or full beards, as long as they were free of food dander. Eyebrows are mandatory too, fellas.

Only a handful of women said they wanted a clean-shaven male face to call their own, but some conceded that some scruff or stubble touching them would be all right. That whole Bradley Cooper deal, I guess.

"My girlfriend doesn't like my beard because it is scratchy. I'd prefer not to shave, but I expect her to shave her legs, so equality," says Evan, taking the path of least resistance with his partner.

Overwhelmingly, it was beards with the win from my short poll. A few women applauded the moustache, but not as fervently as the pro-beard set.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty