There exists a certain tradition during the month of March. For some, it is an unfortunate one. “Repulsive,” they call it, “Disgusting.” Most of us, however, know of its glory. I am speaking, of course, of Mustache March.
Every March, people the world over grow, groom, and delight in mustaches. Some of us have recently noticed a slight increase in the number of sharp young men on campus. Chalk it up to Mustache March. This is my second time taking part in the tradition, and let me tell you that both times, girls who are way out of my league, girls who would normally never approach me, have asked for my digits.
The history of Mustache March is uncertain. A common theory is that it was established in the last century BC. Historians point to a Roman sculpture depicting the assassination of Caesar that shows the famous leader, as well as his assailants, with a defined mustache. It is a historical fact that Caesar was killed on the ides (fifteenth) of March, and they point out that the month of March did not exist until Caesar introduced the Roman calendar, the predecessor of our own. But a UCSB history professor dates the beginning earlier. The professor, who wished not to be named, cites Virgil’s Aeneid, where the hero, Aeneus, mentions the Tempus Subii, Time of the Mustache, during which all of Carthage wore a mustache. The unspecified “Time,” she argues, became March only after Caesar took power.
Regardless of its origins, Mustache March is celebrated. Some people begin their mustaches on the first of March. Others, myself included, stop shaving after Valentine’s Day. When the first rolls around, these people shave everything but the upper lip. Though I do not wish to discredit any strategy, I find the latter most wise because it allows an extra two weeks’ growth, resulting in a strong mustache from the start.
The reason for growing a mustache is obvious enough: It’s cool. One need not reflect long to find an abundance of legit historical figures who wear this style with pride. Grover Cleveland, William Taft and Theodore Roosevelt were all presidents of the United States. They all wore mustaches. Mark Twain, the quintessential American author, had a mustache of remarkable quality, and my boy Edgar Allen Poe never sat portrait without one.
Still, many do not celebrate. This problem is not hard to remedy. To the girls many stores and websites sell fake ‘staches. To the guys who feel their mustaches are inadequate: Don’t worry about it. Like birthday gifts and anniversaries, it’s the thought that counts. My mustache is not perfect, but every year I get a little better and my skills improve. It’s a process.
Upon seeing my mustache, a friend of mine asked me about the tradition. Conceding the coolness of Mustache March, he decided to begin growing one of his own. Apparently his wife objected, so I asked him whether he was going to shave.
“Hell no,” he said, “and wife be damned!”
It is precisely this Devil-may-care attitude that Mustache March invites. So this March, and every March from now until forever, let us throw caution to the wind. It’s not too late to start.