On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, people all around Australia will pause to think: “Look at that poor bastard with the under-construction soup-strainer blighting his upper lip. Give him some money so he’ll go away.”
It’s Movember, a time of the year when men are allowed to unleash their inner-Village Person – all in the name of charity.
Like Red Nose Day, but with a slightly 70s porn undertone, Movember is a wildly popular charity event, responsible for raising money for men’s health and banishing said men to the couch because their partners refuse to let that “thing” anywhere near them.
Hilarity ensues as normally sensible fellows attempt to last a month before admitting how foolish they look. It’s like Lent, except instead of food, you give up your dignity.
“Check out Mike from accounts,” workmates cry. “It looks like some endangered marsupial has died under his nose.”
Few things attract more attention than a moustache. It is designed to stand out, unlike the anonymity of the beard, which hides all manner of chins.
But what about those brave souls who proudly wear their nose warmers all year? The mavericks who not only observe Movember, but Tachember and Fu Manchuary as well? Where are the plaudits for these rugged individuals?
I have a friend who theorises most males settle on a hairstyle between the ages of 22 and 25 and then adhere to it rigidly, like West Australians to their opposition to daylight saving.
If this look was formed between the years of 1975 and 1985, then there is a better than even chance it will be paired with a moustache based on the tonsorial trinity of Burt Reynolds, Dennis Lillee and Tom Selleck.
These moustachioed marvels are proud of their facial hair but this commitment make November a social minefield.
This month any man whose face is not as smooth as a Michael Buble song runs the risk of being asked: “Are you doing Movember?” because of the popular assumption the only reason anyone would possibly endure facial hair is for charity.
The questioner is quickly chastened when someone replies: “No, this is how I normally look.” It is the male equivalent of unthinkingly asking a woman when the baby is due.
Moustaches used to be de rigeur, especially for politicians. Every signatory of the Treaty of Versailles had a moustache except American President Woodrow Wilson, who promptly led the USA to a period of isolationism lasting 20 years.
Think of movie stars like Errol Flynn and Clark Gable. A moustache was the 1930s equivalent of Scientology, essential if you wanted to succeed in Hollywood. One of the 20th century’s most iconic examples was a fake. Groucho Marx sported a grease paint moustache in all his movies, only growing the real thing in the 1950s for his television show You Bet Your Life.
Unfortunately, moustaches never really recovered from the twin blows of Hitler and Stalin. Instead of being the badge of a statesman, they are now exclusively confined to either hardcore moustaches-wearers mention earlier or actors in nostalgic Australian mini-series set in the 1970s.
There is no doubt the ultimate outcome of Movember is positive. Men’s health does not have the public profile of its more attractive equivalent and if four weeks of ironic moustaches are what it takes to make the rough, tough blokes of Australia take better care of themselves, then it is a price worth paying.
So to all Movember participants: Have your fun.The money you raise is going to a good cause. Just spare a thought for the men who carry their bushy burdens 365 days a year. Remember, a moustache is for life, not just for Movember.
To donate to Movember click here.