Did Doug Henning have any idea how creepy he was?
Or, to pick a slightly-more culturally relevant D-list celebrity, how about Yanni?
Neither was ever accused of being overly fashionable, but their appearances beg the question: has there ever been a time when this wasn't an actively creepy look to cultivate??
Forgive me. I'm ahead of myself.
Monday night began WEEK 4 of the 826michigan Mustache-A-Thon. Once again, mustache farmers and well-wishers gathered at Arbor Brewing Company for documentation and camaraderie. Perhaps more importantly, the event doubled as a volunteer appreciation night honoring the hardworking and delightful people who help make 826michigan the amazing place that it is.
I claim no knowledge of your emotional landscape, dear reader, but I have insight into my own: I am a fellow who is usually slightly uncomfortable in his own skin. I'm self-aware in all of the worst ways, particularly when surrounded by strangers and casual acquaintances.
"They're noticing how stupid my hair looks," I think to myself. "They see that my pants are too short. They're noticing my yellowed tooth. My shoes don't match my belt. I'm ten pounds overweight, and I'm carrying all of it in my puffy, broken-out face. Also, I think I have a booger in my nose. God, I can hear it! It's a whistling booger! I'm a freak."
These are the thoughts that distract and dominate me while mingling. It's a personal failing, and an ironic one at that, considering how infrequently I notice when I've said something deeply offensive or unspeakably awful in mixed company.
Marvel then at my shift in attitude while in mixed company, as opposed to my time spent with 826ers:
When I am at a party, or a rock show, or waiting in line at the Secretary of State, I am surrounded by strangers with unknown and potentially nefarious agendas: "Is that guy going to spill his drink on me?" "Did that girl think I was hitting on her?" "Will this woman accept my library card as one of the secondary forms of identification required to obtain a fishing permit?" (yes, yes, no.)
Contrast that with a gathering of volunteers:
When you're in a room full of individuals who are inclined to freely donate their time and energy toward an organization like 826michigan, you are surrounded by goodness and decency. Volunteer nights are great boosts for flagging self-esteem, as it's difficult to feel bad about yourself while in such company. A quick glance around the room reveals extraordinary people from wall to wall: Teachers, tutors, techies, designers... all of them smart, driven and united in that they choose to involve themselves with something that they deem worthwhile and important. Time spent with them is time spent in a hug, a non-stop high five. (I slipped into metaphor there.) Volunteers! Huzzah!
That was my attitude on Monday evening: High spirits and good cheer! Then, just as I was feeling a little too self satisfied for associating with such fine citizens, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror of the bar. The sight shocked me straight back to self-loathing and revulsion as I marveled at the hairy behemoth nesting on my upper lip. It is loathsome and grotesque. It is my mustache, and I hate it.
Now, instead of seeming slightly uncomfortable in my own skin, I have the appearance of one who would probably be more comfortable in someone else's: The paperboy's. The mayor's. Jodi Foster's. I look like a sociopath. I am abhorrent. I look like Doug Henning.
We're entering the final days of the Mustache-A-Thon. Please consider joining us at our grand finale on Monday evening! Pledges will be tallied, awards handed out, and upper lips will --finally, mercifully-- be liberated from this hirsute nightmare.