Or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Razor.
It’s not really surprising that the first thing I’ve been privileged to write about for Hero Zero concerns facial hair, as this is the most hirsute community I’ve ever been welcomed into. Only the prohibitive pricing of razor blades at Etos can explain the verdant growth that graces so many faces in the 030. And perhaps it accounts for the rampant creativity that prospers here as well. In my only summer as a monkey in a suit I had to shave every other day, which had drastic consequences for my wallet, throat and mortal soul. The only thing I produced was a particularly witty line for Post-It notes, which has sadly become lost in the mists of time. Actually, that’s a lie. You never forget your good work, only the shit stuff. That’s why my memory is so bad.
So bad I can’t remember the last time I saw a moustache here, though I must say that’s a blessed relief. Being relatively tall (for an Englishman) and blessed with a long, narrow face and dark curly hair, any attempt to grow a tache inevitably invites comparisons to Borat, or back in the day, Freddie Mercury. Whereas with a full head of facial hair, it’s more Chris Martin or Tim Henman. All of which contribute to my fairly regular shaving regime.
Fortunately I’ve become a little more handy with a razor than I was on my first attempt, aged 5. This isn’t me boasting about how early I was able to grow facial hair, but as those of you familiar with my coordination and accident proneness would expect, it’s a tale of woe and disaster. Having watched my Dad shave every morning before he left for work, I thought it was about time I took on his mantle of man of the house in his absence and started shaving myself. I couldn’t work out what to do with his shaving brush and soap so I decided to go for what I later learned was a dry shave. It ended up being my mum who got in a lather when she was confronted with a bawling son running down the stairs streaming blood everywhere
When I did first start spouting the first traces of bumfluff on my upper lip, I was overjoyed. Finally I had the long-awaited key to attracting girls and buying cider underage (which in those days basically amounted to the same thing). As soon as I could start sporting anything vaguely resembling a ‘moustache’ I did it with impunity. The fact that I didn’t attract any girls with the tache in place until I went on an German exchange tells its own story, as does the time I almost got arrested for using fake ID in an off licence.
Eventually I learnt my lesson, and started shaving more often. With time I got hold of the cider, but I’m still waiting on the women. To see how far I had come since the bumfluff era, I heroically decided to sport a moustache for 24 hours and record the Dutch public’s reactions. I would finally be at the cutting edge of investigative journalism.
Things didn’t get off to a good start when I met my colleague (though he’s Italian so doesn’t count) at the station and he laughed at me, or when the ticket inspector stared at me for an eternity whilst pretending to look at my card.
The kindest words I received were from someone who didn’t see it -‘intriguing’. As this was in an email where it’s impossible to truly judge the level of irony, I’m pretty certain it was high, verging on the state only achieved if it rains on your wedding day or you get a free ride when you’ve already paid. That aside, most people were content to label it merely ‘weird’ or ‘German’. Compliments must get lost in translation.
However, the most disturbing revelations were as follows:
a) No one was really surprised by it. Which means that either they were too polite to say anything or I’m the sort of person who would naturally have a moustache.
b) At the end of the day I seriously toyed with the idea of keeping it. Although you can’t really stroke it (and by extension love it) in the same way you can a beard, there’s something vaguely comforting in having a moustache. I think this is more down to the fact that out of sheer perversity I generally love things (warm beer, Ipswich, myself) that other people don’t, rather than it suiting me at all.
Happily, when I did it shave it off, I felt much better. My face was once more the best a man can get, and so it will stay, at least until November. Then an Australian charity runs an event to raise awareness of male health issues (not the sniffles and man flu, but the serious stuff) by encouraging men to grow a tache for a month. Brilliantly, it’s called Movember. You’re all welcome to join me, although I’d like to shotgun the Fu Manchu look. Just remember, the mo the merrier…