Years ago, I decided to shave off my beard. Being a fun-loving trouble-maker, I decided to leave only the central part of my mustache intact. I wanted to see my son’s reaction when I waltzed out of my room sporting a Toothbrush mustache, AKA a “Hitler mustache.”
Didn’t somebody famous once say, “My body, my choice?” My son wasn’t amused.
But why not? I don’t think it makes sense to stigmatize the Toothbrush mustache for eternity, just because Hitler sported the same style so many decades ago.
America’s ambassador to Korea, a half-Japanese fellow named Harry B. Harris, suffered long-term criticism for his mustache, which reminded Koreans of a style popular among many occupational Japanese troops through WWII. From Microsoft News:
An American Mustache That Irritated South Koreans Is No More
The mustache, a thick salt-and-pepper number neatly shaped into a chevron, had survived questions, protests and even Photoshopped ridicule. But it has met its match: the long, sticky days of a Korean pandemic summer.
At least that was the account given last week by the American ambassador to South Korea, Harry B. Harris Jr., as he walked into a Seoul barbershop. He sat down for a clean shave of a bit of facial hair he had held fast to for two years, even as it threatened to escalate diplomatic tensions.
Some in South Korea had viewed the mustache worn by Mr. Harris, a Japanese-American, as a distasteful reminder of those worn by the colonial Japanese governors who ruled Korea from 1910 to 1945, a period that holds traumatic memories on the peninsula.
It wasn’t long ago that I worked for a Japanese company, and when a certain young Japanese engineer showed up, fresh from Japan, sporting a similar mustache (it was a little thinner), I was awe-inspired.
I’m as straight as they come, but I did have a fascination with his mustache; I thought it was awesome – and it might be because it had historic significance. Perhaps that engineer is actually a Japanese nationalist. If I were Korean, perhaps I would have viewed it differently.
But even murderers have fixed sentences. Nobody is sentenced to be locked up for eternity.
I think a hundred years is reasonable, so let us declare, by international treaty, that all mustaches that were stigmatized by WWII be forgiven as of September 2045.
Since I couldn’t shave while sitting shiva for my father (over forty years ago), my then girlfriend decided she would hold my budding mustache for ransom–her threat to cut off her luxuriously long hair if I shaved it off.
Well, the mustache survived the end of the relationship ten months later. I kept it until I found a job and moved to another city. It did look ridiculous, and I’ve never had one since.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if it turned out that the only facial hair you could grow was a square area right in the center under your nose, and you only found out while sitting shiva? :o