There’s a French movie, ‘La moustache‘ in which a man shaves off his mustache, almost on a whim, before his girlfriend and he visit friend. To his surprise – and some dark turns later in the movie – the friends and the girlfriend don’t notice the absence. And even tell him he never had one. It then gets complicated. Those French.
Anyway. One day, a few months ago, without much deliberation other than I had gotten tired of it, I shaved off the hair that had sat atop my upper lip for more than 40 years. I first grew the thing in college – a thin, scraggly little thing which was my concession to the ’60s rebel look. Besides, I couldn’t grow a beard. When I was drafted, I had to shave it off, but could immediately grow it back to Army specifications out of basic training. And thus it stayed, growing hairier and fuller and grayer as time passed. When it got to the point I looked like Gabby Hayes’ older brother, I felt maybe it was time to clean up my act.
Mind you, my wife of 34 years had never seen me without it. My kids did not know a hairless Sad. No one in San Antonio had ever seen me without my mustache.
Ginny walked into the bathroom just as I finished. I turned and she gasped. Not much phases her but she gasped. “Um…looks nice,” she said. She kept staring at my face.
“What?” I asked.
“You’re upper lip….” She paused. I looked in the mirror and there was a sickly pale patch of skin. “I’m sure it will look OK once you get some sun.”
The sons had their own reaction. Sam, the younger, said something like, “Cool” and walked away. I could have done without the snickering. A week later, Gabriel the elder reacted more in shock. Months later, I don’t think hes quite accepted it yet. “So,” he says, months later. “When you going to grow it back?”
I’m not sure. I’m getting used to the hairless look. Ginny no longer looks at me like a stranger is sitting across from her at breakfast, taking the last bit of coffee. Friends, after the first fit of laughter, take my clean-cut look in stride. Clerks at H-E-B grocery and other retailers ignore me just as much now as ever. It’s a face I’m not quite convinced is mine. But I’m getting used to it.
Oh yeah. I’m leaving the real image of Dave, Before & After, to the imagination. Those who have seen me know what I look like. And those that haven’t, just imagine I look like the French guy. Only shorter, heavier, grayer and I smile more. Other than that – spitting image.