Harry Tattersall Smith
The ill-fated teenage boyband North South once sang, “I’m a man not a boy”, and as a child I took that as my call to arms. But the North South revolution failed, and so did mine. People realised they were rubbish and my parents realised I was 8, and thus biologically not a man, and wisely ignored my tantrums in which I demanded to be allowed to move in with Scott down the road because, well, it was a free country and also because he had a Play Station and Sky TV, and ate dinner on the sofa.
I had forgotten all about those days until this month of Movember when the feeling has been depressingly dragged back to my attention. I may have the physique of a gangly 19 year-old, but in facial fuzz years I’m still very much the little boy who thought a crudely assembled reality TV pop group were the driving force behind a radical campaign for social justice.
This past month has seen the facial grooming glitterati take centre stage. Our very own Glasgow has become a moustachioed metropolis. I have attempted to masquerade as a fellow “moustache-kateer” for the sake of charity, yet have come to feel like a fraud, and am now seeking exile in a facial-hair-free world.
My patchy offerings seem like an ill-conceived disguise and one which I am scared, if kept, will continue to give moustaches the world over a bad name. It has been a month in which a love-hate relationship has swung back and forth, a month in which I have come to view the moustache no longer as a disturbing oddity but rather as a beautifully and painstakingly cultivated work of facial art.
Usually I would take being compared to a dictator as an affront, yet a month spent trying to cultivate a moustache has changed me. For the first time in my life, having people draw comparisons between me and totalitarian tyrants has filled me with an enormous sense of pride. “What? You can actually tell that I’m attempting to grow a moustache? Yes, I am aware that I currently look like a pre-pubescent Adolf Hitler, but the fact you noticed unprompted and without forcing me into doing my ridiculous and degrading pouting charade fills me with a long-lost sense of masculinity.”
However, these precious moments have been few and far between. Any time I’ve started feeling even remotely confident about the mass of barely visible hairs assembled together over my top and categorised loosely — for want of a better word — as a moustache, I’ve had to suffer the gut-wrenching experience of encountering one of those infuriating gorilla-esque men who you can tell were born with a 5 o’clock shadow, and have to take time out of their lunch break to shave. It leaves me feeling like the clingy kid at school who’s desperate to be included, complete with braces, thick glasses, a lisp and a perennial sniffle, desperately clamouring to the group of cooler and older boys up ahead — “Guuuys … Wait up for me!”
As a foolish young man, I had always assumed the ‘tache was the path to academic enlightenment — or at least the appearance of it — yet if anything, I’m now experiencing a deranged descent into a sort of manic moustache madness. I’ve come to view my moustache as a safety blanket, as a source of comfort. I occasionally catch myself licking it and am shocked. I catch other people catching me licking it and I am disgraced. It’s a slow and steady decline. December 1 cannot come round soon enough for the sake of my sanity. That said, it will feel like I’m losing a friend. Sure, a creepy, weird-looking one — but a friend nonetheless.