My mustache journey ended last night with a bang at the annual Movember Gala which was held at the Kastiel Center in Tel Aviv. As usual I made a complete buffoon of myself by showing up in costume when in fact it was not a masquerade ball. D’oh! Except for the Jake Gyllenhaal Brokeback Mountain guy. And the gay vampire couple. Though I’m not sure either was technically a costume. I went as Zorro, the gay blade.
My mustache journey was fraught with shame. And controversy. Mainly because I decided on documenting it with a daily picture which I uploaded to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And they became increasingly bizarre. And homo-erotic. Like the one of me doing my best Freddy Mercury impression from the music video for I want To Break Free.
Or the grand finale. The George Costanza posing semi-naked on the couch. That one broke the camel’s back. In this case the camel was my sister-in-law. Who found little humor in that “pornography” I had posted. Neither did the other camel. My mother-in-law.
In many ways the mustache allowed me to break free from my crippling inhibitions. Like my secret desire to wear M.’s clothes. And stretch them out beyond repair. And then ask her to take the picture. At six AM. While our son looks on in sheer horror. Which will most likely be fodder for many, many, many hours of psychological therapy. For him. And my wife. Maybe even a lobotomy. For me.
I shaved more during the month of Movember than I have so far this year. Combined. At first it was to highlight the fact that I had a moustache. For the first two weeks it was very creepy looking. And barely noticeable. Like some high school kid trying to impress his classmates. Or an Iraqi fourth grader. Or a Kardashian. And afterwards it became a ritual. An obsessive compulsive habit. Like watching porn. Or blogging.
My boss told me I looked like a Syrian truck driver. Or the villain in those Egyptian movies that used to air on Channel 1 on Friday afternoons. You know the ones. With the legendary Farid El Atrash. Neither of which are that complimentary really. And then towards the middle of the month, a video repair technician. From New Jersey. Which sadly, wasn’t that far off the mark.
My wife’s cousin, who hadn’t seen me in years, said I looked like a Turkish Pasha. And that I had gotten fat. Like really fat. I told her it was all for charity. And that I really committed to it.
My friends said I looked more and more like a village person. Or a porn star. A gay porn star. And as the mustache grew thicker I became less of a porn star and more of a gay porn actor who shows up later in the film. Like the third or fourth scene. And let’s face it, most people don’t make it that far. So I was relegated to “gay porn extra” status.
My son learned how to say the Hebrew word for Mustache. Which is “Safam”. And he would point to my mustache with his little finger. And I would “rip it off” and let him borrow it. Like when my dad used to steal my nose when I was little. And it was the most adorable thing in the world. And then when I bought the Zorro costume he wanted to play with that too. And he put the mask on. And in his white longjohn pants and white pajama top, wielding a sword and mask he looked like Malcolm Macdowell in Clockwork Orange. And it scared the shit out of me.
At one point people started to ask me whether or not I intended to shave it off at the end of Movember. And I tried to picture my life with a mustache once I couldn’t rationalize it with “oh, it’s for charity”. And the image was grim. It involved over zealous soccer moms with pepper spray near the jungle gym. Or people talking to me in Russian every time I walk down the street. Because in this country only Russians rock mustaches apparently. But I’m not Russian. And I don’t speak Russian And they look at me. And they look at my mustache. And scratch their heads. And mumble something in Russian before walking away.
Most of the people I talked to here in Israel, regardless of age, knew little to nothing about Movember. Like the guy I met on the street with a mustache. And tattoos. And I was certain he was rocking it for Movember. So I smiled at him. And winked. And he became increasingly uncomfortable. So I stopped riding my bike and took off my headphones. And asked him about his mustache. And he smiled. Relieved. And told me he’d had the mustache forever. And I imagined a little baby with a mustache. And we talked about prostate cancer. And then we took a picture together. And we parted as men with mustaches have been parting for centuries. With a handshake and a grunt. A fraternity of facial hair that goes back to the cave dwelling days. Or at least the 70’s.
But I shaved it this morning with little pomp and circumstance. And it’s like I’ve lost an old friend. The Momance is over and I can’t help but miss that little black ribbon above my lip. It aged me in a distinguished way. At the best of times it made me look like Tom Selleck. Or Burt Reynolds. It gave me something to look forward to every day. Whether it was reenacting a scene from one of my favorite movies (The Big Lebowski), doing a produce gag at the supermarket or enlisting D. for a hammy pic it helped me express some of my creativity while supporting a great cause.
And last night was closure. A funeral for my mustache. Surrounded by hundreds of people and dozens of fellow mustachios we rocked out to the eclectic sounds of Aviahu Pinchasov’s Beat Club Band and a golden Gillette razor blade shaver was handed out to the best mustache. It wasn’t mine.
And now that I am clean shaven and no longer resemble a taxi driver or Super Mario or the neighborhood molester, I can’t help but feel that a certain part of me is missing.
And after reviewing the pictures from this month I can honestly say that the missing thing is not my mustache.
It’s my dignity.