Life Lessons

Mustache of Shame

What is your facial hair hiding?

Paul Thomas Swann
3 min readFeb 8, 2021

I was a grown man before I decided to shave off that awful mustache.

And, I’ve never looked back.

The impetus for change? A girl. A stunning and multi-lingual college-age Russian who was a part of a group of other college girls assigned as translators for a motley crew of Americans in northern Russia.

Here’s how I fell for her: I looked at her.

No, really. I looked at her and said, “hello.”

She returned the gaze.

And in that brief glance of her dark crystal (technically blue) eyes, my soul was pierced. My consciousness emptied of the ability to think rational thoughts. And I stumbled back to the room from which I came, forgetting the reason I had left human-centric weather and found myself in a place that receives an average of 9000 feet of snow 14 months out of the year.

But there I was. And, oh yes. I had a horrendous mustache and, for good luck, an extra 20 pounds.

I knew instinctively that a change was needed and that a change was coming.

I mean, I knew why I had a mustache. Every man does.

With the exception of a small percentage of those who are hiding something like a scar, rabid acne, or perhaps just a hideous face, everyone else is hiding or trying to hide, insecurity.

I certainly was.

At eighteen, I thought a mustache made me look grown, like a semi-adult. Maybe also a little like Burt Reynolds. But for goodness' sake, I was in my twenties.

My Twenties! (Exact age not important).

How long did I need to keep this accouterment that gave the impression of being grown, of being an adult?

After I had met the stunning Russian, I knew that the furry thing above my upper lip had to go. Oh, and the weight too. But I didn’t have to do anything special for that. My body, on a minute-to-minute basis, worked overtime to stay warm in this arctic desert where no one really should live or visit.

The necessity to walk everywhere in the college town of Syktyvkar burned calories at an insane rate…