You've probably seen them: mustache icons popping up everywhere. Necklaces, tee shirts, posters, red cup party pics, and the girl with the mustache drawn on her upper lip. At first I only saw them at obscure craft fairs of the indie variety, but now they seem to be crossing into the mainstream. I've seen them at Target on coffee mugs and ironic mustache-shaped corkboards for the college-bound set (sending Irony to weep hysterically in a dark room). I swear to God, I saw a car the other day with a giant mustache decal across the front, which elicited exactly the same response from me as the first time I saw Ed Hardy Chianti: "Enough already."
I'm not holding out any hope that's gonna happen, though. The young people find mustaches hilarious. And to be honest, (and totally aging myself), I just don't get it.
But I have a theory! See, the young folks today grew up in a relatively clean-shaven world. For a long time, all you'd see would be the occasional well-trimmed goatee, super groomed chin patch, or maybe a wee bit of five o'clock shadow on the bad boy. They were not traumatized by facial hair the way our generation was! They didn't have to deal with all the '70s and '80s scruffiness, sideburns, muttonchops, and huge mountain man beards that were terrifying and scratched the hell out of us when some adult wanted a hug. The newer generations seem to think mustaches are cool, even gentlemanly, (and they are in small doses or when raising awareness for cancer) because they don't know any better!
However, I have a few historical points to illustrate the potential trauma of the mustache.
First and foremost, this was the voice of authority (sort of). Geraldo always looked like if he was late one particular morning, he might run out of the house without trimming (God forbid), and then his lip hairs might jump right through the TV and strangle us. It could happen.
ZZ Top. We were small back then and this was not the kind of blankie we were looking for.
John "Tell me I look good or I'll cut you" Oates.
New Edition. We wanted to fall head over heels! Those sweet baby faces crooning to us over the radio. But there was a problem: first just the hint of fuzz, then the definite beginnings of purposely groomed fuzz. That took them out of the realm of date-able boys and into the realm of men. And men... men were dangerous. But they've got to cool it now! So confusing!
Al, you are a very talented song/spoof writer, but please admit that you just have a lot of shit going on here.
Ditto Matthew Wilder. Nobody gonna break my 'stache.
And these are just a small sampling of the many many 80s mustaches that traumatized us daily. There was even an episode of The Tick where an escaped, genetically-engineered mustache takes over his face and begins wreaking havoc. He thinks it's cool and then it turns on him. That sums it up exactly!
So young people, before you all start growing facial hair all over please, remember that history is a place to learn from mistakes.
Not that we got everything wrong in the '80s. I give you the one man who can actually pull off a mustache:
In Tom Selleck we trust. Amen.
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