Pardon zee mustache

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grazianoMy relationship with facial hair is complicated. 

Like many children, I can remember being flat-freaked out by men with facial hair. I grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s when most men were clean-shaven, save the occasional Kevin Costner five o’clock shadow. This was, after all, Reagan-land – clean-shaven and well-dressed and closeted. Facial hair was an aberration, an implied question mark on a man’s character.

Then in my new adulthood (point for my hip-term), Nirvana and Pearl Jam and grunge music landed along with the goatee, which has been my look circa 1997.

If I’m honest with myself, the reason I’ve stuck to the goatee for so long stems from my abject failure at growing a full beard. Anytime I try, my face looks like a dying lawn. I can pull off the goatee without too many patches, but the beard is chock full of gopher holes.

Then, a  few weeks ago, I read something online about Movember. 

That’s not a typo.

Movember is an online charity movement to raise awareness of men’s health issues, both physical and mental, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide. In short, you grow a mustache for the month of November (no shame) to call attention to these important issues and try to solicit donations. As someone who lives with mental illness, the idea appealed to me.

So after a bad day betting and a few Bud Lights, I signed up.

But I’m not someone who can ask others for donations; it makes me endlessly anxious and uncomfortable. So in my own haphazard way, I decided I’d recognize Movember by growing a mustache and writing about it. And if anyone asks me why I look like a ’70s porn star, they will get an earful about these issues.

Today, however, as I was driving into work, I caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. I was wearing a gray cardigan and a burgundy collared shirt with this ridiculous mustache and I nearly drove off the road. 

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“Somehow I’d become Ned Flanders.”

Somehow I was not only Ned Flanders but every other incarnation of a man with a mustache as well. I was a carnie cranking a cigarette behind the Ferris wheel; a man who wears gold chains; the guy who mixes the punch at a swingers’ party. I was someone who knows a secret, and the one dude in the room with a toothpick resting on his bottom lip. 

Nobody said that Movember would be easy.  

But still I beat on, a boat against the current. And my wife just informed me that Movember happens to coincide with Involuntary Celibacy Month. 

So cheers, everyone. Now go watch a Sam Elliot movie. 

[You can see my Movember page here:]


About this Author

Nathan Graziano

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester with his wife and kids. He's the author of nine collections of fiction and poetry. His most recent book, Born on Good Friday was published by Roadside Press in 2023. He's a high school teacher and freelance writer, and in his free time, he writes bios about himself in the third person. For more information, visit his website: