Honolulu Lite


Monday, August 20, 2001

Shaving your mustache
can be a hairy experience

YOU know you're getting old when your hair starts turning against you.

One day your hair is your friend, the next day it is on the move. It grays, it migrates and disappears altogether. After you pass 40, your hair has things to do, its own agenda.

Hair that has been perfectly happy perched on top of your head decides to go south for the winter of your lifetime. That's why you see guys who are completely bald on top and yet their back looks like a horsehair throw rug. And it doesn't stop there. After a few years it leaves the back and heads for the okole. Maybe it's nature's way of providing the elderly with natural pillows to protect brittle bones. (Which brings up a completely unrelated question: Why are bottoms called bottoms? To be correct, the feet should be called bottoms. They are at the bottom. The bottom really should be called the middle.)

Doctors used to think that when people went bald, the hair on their head simply disappeared. It doesn't. It just reassigns itself, sometimes to the most alarming places. I always feel bad when I see an otherwise dignified-looking older gent with tufts of hair springing out of his ears.

I grew a mustache when I was about 18 to make me look older. At least, that's why I thought I grew it. I had not shaved it off for decades.

Then it turned on me, started getting prematurely gray. I know, all gray hair is premature, but this was really uncalled for.

I am not old, damn it, and I will not have my mustache making people think I am.

So I shaved it off.

In a minute it was gone, after nearly 30 years of faithful duty in the middle of my face.

I shrieked when I looked in the mirror. I realized then why I had grown it in the first place: I have no upper lip. Nothing. There's the nose, then the little unnamed thingy under the nose and then ... teeth. I was a Wes Craven nightmare: The Man With No Lip. What had I done?

My daughter had never seen me without a mustache. I was sure that if she saw that the old man had neither a mustache nor upper lip, it would be too much for her. She might never recover from the shock.

But what could I do?

I tried little patches of silver duct tape, but I looked like a robot version of Hitler. I thought of applying black Magic Marker, a la Groucho Marx. But it was no good. I was stuck. The lipless wonder, staring into the mirror while shards of my grayish former mustache mocked me from the washbasin.

My daughter's hysterical laughter also was not a comfort.

I'm not an overly sensitive person, but think hooting and pointing at someone's face is out of line.

Luckily, mustache hair is hearty. The mustache grew back quickly, and it went to work providing not only facial balance, but, thankfully, camouflage.

The mustache shaving incident has had some unfortunate long-term side effects. When my daughter needs to be scolded, I can no longer say, "Don't you give me any of your lip, young lady." Well, I can. But then she says, "Why not? You can use all you can get."

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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