Mustache Summer The Cookie Duster
 
 

Mister Spiffy

July
19
1999
 

Your Host

 

stache.GIF (1703 bytes)Stache-status Report

I am happy to say that my own personal Cookie Duster has reached maturity. I know this because I stopped shaving for three days and at the end of that time, a mustache could still be discerned. It is an official mustache, and I feel I should throw it a coming-of-age party or something. A Bar Mustache. It's an important time for a guy, when people don't need to be told that you have a mustache, even if you're talking face to face. Sometimes it's nice to eschew the razor for a weekend, then shave on Monday morning and enjoy the contrast.


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Proof of Usage!

M
y wife visited her grandma last week and brought pictures along to show. One of them was of Yours Truly, sporting what the Germanic types call "ein schoenische Schnurrbart" (a killer snout-beard). "Oh, look," cried Grandma, "He's got a cookie duster!" I am forced to declare here that, although a relative, Grandma has neither seen nor heard the title of this column. This was a fully unbidden use of an obviously familiar term, which is what they "used to call those little mustaches back in [her] day." (In other words, I did not make this up) HORAY for Grandma! Out of the basement!

stache.GIF (1703 bytes)The Chaplin-Hitler Reversal

Well, it doesn't take much for a fellow's mustache style to fall out of fashion, does it? One little world war, and your carefully tended "Chaplin" mustache becomes the laughingstock of the free world! I would wager that 'round about 1939 a number of men felt a new chill on their upper lip. What a turnaround. The time from Chaplin's first feature film (The Kid, 1921) to Hitler's position as Chancellor in 1933 was only twelve years, but one hundred eighty degrees in public opinion. Now I can't recall seeing anyone in modern times (!) with a similar mustache. Except for maybe the main guard in A Clockwork Orange, but I'm not sure if he had the full square or just a shortened version of the Cop Mustache. Groucho Marx's greasepaint mustache was definitely rectangular, but too wide to be confused for the Chaplin/Hitler model. It's a shame that this mustache has acquired such a bad association. It certainly looks easy to maintain!

 


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Mustache Ambiguity

I've noticed that many people seem to have the wrong idea of what actually constitutes a Fu Manchu mustache and a Handlebar mustache. i think the main fault lies in the tiny amount of men who actually have these out-of-fashion Dusters. It's hard to remember exactly what the terms mean if they have fallen into disuse over the years.

A Fu Manchu mustache is a style made popular by a series of adventure novels and films of the 30s and 40s. Its main characteristic is the length of the ends of the mustache. It is crucial to note that the ends of the Fu Manchu do not touch the face. The wearer lets the ends of his 'stache grow extremely long, sometimes braiding them or attaching small beads to the end, as the gunfighter Gallandro did in Alan Deam Foster's Han Solo and the Lost Legacy (sorry - this has stuck in my mind since childhood). Mike Piazza does not have a Fu Manchu mustache. It does appear like one, but it is not the True Fu Manchu. It is a Faux Fu.
ScaryTrue FuNeither Here Nor There

The Handlebar mustache is another style that is often confused with the Mike Piazza-style 'stache. It does look kind of like the handlebars of a bicycle as seen from above, but so do a lot of things, and we don't call everything "handlebar", now, do we? The handlebar has a much more delicate curve, and, as in the Fu Manchu, is only attached to the face at the upper lip. It is often associated with the barbershop quartet style of the Gay 90s.
"Sweet Adeline..."Beautiful handlebar
I think that the popularity of the Piazza mustache and the subsequent confusion with the above two styles can be traced to the effort and care needed to properly maintain the Fu Manchu and the Handlebar. There's a lot of grooming involved getting the ends of the Fu to flow smoothly from the lip, or using wax to curve the handlebar just right. It is much easier to just stop shaving for a couple of weeks and then trace an outline with your razor -- voila! "fu manchu"! I am definitely not saying that people who choose this style of Cookie Duster are lazy. Far from it! I praise them for their desire to uphold the Mighty Mustache in whatever way they want. I just want to clear up the nomenclature for the generations to come, to keep the record straight, to call a spade a spade, a handlebar a handlebar, and a Piazza a Piazza. This is my quest.

 


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Boogie On, Mustache Children

That's the end of another Cookie Duster. Stay tuned for more important news and views about the Hair O'er the Lip. Drop me a line with any questions, comments, or 'stache reports - XianRex@mustachesummer.com - and I'll make you a star.

I must dash off to another showing of Tombstone, so until next week, Make Mine Mustache!

- Christian

Don't miss out on previous Dusters:

Preseason
June 21
June 28
July 5
July 12

Don't miss out on previous Dusters:

Preseason
June 21
June 28
July 5
July 12

Mustache Summer Return to the home of Mustache Summer