© All columns copyrighted
Columns must not be
reprinted in any form without the author's express permission.
Nshima & Curry
Nshima & Curry
MEN OF TODAY ARE FAR TOO SMOOTH
Grover Cleveland had one. Teddy
Roosevelt had one. William Taft had a big
But for some odd reason, almost every
American president in the last 75 years,
whether Republican or Democrat, has
chosen to tackle the toughest job in the land
without the confidence and security that only
a mustache can bring.
Indeed, at times, there's been little to
distinguish the president from the First
Lady. Aside from the occasional burp.
American men in general have also
shunned facial hair in favor of the
clean-shaven, choirboy look. Even actor
Tom Selleck, whose bushy mustache
accentuated his virility and sex appeal in the
'80s, has turned into a tall Richard Simmons.
Things are quite different in my native land,
India, as I recently noticed in a National
Geographic photo of thousands of men at a
religious festival. At least 80% sported
mustaches and these were no ordinary
schoolboy mustaches. These were
prominent, distinctive mustaches, the kind
that would set you apart, if every man
around you didn't have one, too.
Watch any Indian movie and you're likely to
see a mustachioed hero tangling with a
mustachioed villain, especially if the
mustachioed producer has asked the
mustachioed director to cut back on special
effects, such as bare upper lips.
Indian men are experts at growing and
grooming facial hair and have occasionally
put this skill to good use. For example, just
last year, former soldier K. Subbarao
earned a prized spot in the Guinness Book
of World Records by lifting 77 pounds of
empty gas cylinders with his mustache.
And you thought Indians were only good at
Since his record lift, Subbarao is probably
making a good living, carrying several
suitcases at once at the airport. Or perhaps
he's using his famed mustache to pull a
rickshaw. "Look Ma, no hands."
Another Indian, K.R. Sain, holds the
Guinness record for longest mustache.
Measured in 1993, the mustache spanned
11 feet 11 inches. Since then, Sain has
probably lived a carefree life, without ever
needing to use a remote control. Moving his
head, he can switch channels on his
television, turn the lights off or flush the toilet.
India failed to win a single gold medal at the
last Olympics, but that's only because there
were no events involving facial hair.
Subbarao, if given the chance, would have
won several events, including mustache
tennis, mustache wrestling, and mustache
If only these events could be added to the
next Olympics. It's too bad the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) can't be bribed.
Facial hair was once the rage in America, too.
Almost every president in the last century
wore a full beard. Rutherford Hayes' beard
was so thick, he once scratched it and
found his lost cat. It had been missing for
The demise of facial hair started in 1903
when that scoundrel King Camp Gillette
began making razors with replaceable
double-edged blades. Today, many
professional companies discourage facial
hair, even if it can be used for various tasks,
such as painting, dusting and sweeping.
Such blatant discrimination has upset many,
including the California-based Organization
for the Advancement of Facial Hair. "Our
goal is to promote the advancement of
facial hair on all people and equality for all
those who grow such," states the group's
That's a worthy goal, but only if "all people"
does not mean ALL people. Mustaches
look fine on some men, but I'm not too fond
of them on women.
Equality of the sexes can only go so far.