By Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs
The razor hovered just above my upper lip. The blade was suspended millimeters from my skin. The consequences of my next move would have lasting ramifications for at least the next thirty days. Even at this moment of reckoning, I wasn’t sure which path I would choose.
The day had started like any other Monday: Slap the alarm, get dressed, head to the gym, and then on to work. But this morning was different. This was Monday, March 2, 2015, the first official work day of “Mustache March 2015.” Today, the typical morning routine of gym, shower and shave was anything but typical. This morning came with the added weight of a decision that had to be made–a decision that was reflected in the mirror, literally staring me in the face as I stood there with razor in hand.
To shave or not to shave? That is the question.
The pull to drop the razor, rinse the shaving cream off my upper lip and “let it grow” was strong. After all, Mustache March is a part of Air Force heritage, the roots of which go back to the legendary facial hair of Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a triple-ace fighter pilot attributed with shooting down a total of 17 enemy aircraft in World War II and Vietnam. Wasn’t it in some way my duty as an Airman to do my part to pay homage to this tradition?
Besides, I already had a weekend’s worth of stubble in place which made for the beginnings of what could possibly evolve into a truly glorious mustache. Visions of a perfectly waxed handlebar danced in my head as I imagined taking the top prize for the base “Mustache March Madness” competition. (Granted, the handlebar style wouldn’t be within Air Force regulations for dress and appearance, which would mean disqualification from the competition, but still, it would look fantastic!)
On the other hand, my track record for growing a mustache, or facial hair of any type for that matter, is less than stellar. Prior to joining the military, I made a few ill-fated attempts at a goatee, and during a deployment, I even sported a valiant attempt at what turned out to be a miserable excuse for a mustache. Unfortunately, all my attempts fell well short of the initial goal of growing luscious, full-bodied whiskers. (The results were bad enough my wife informed me that, should I return to the United States from my deployment with said mustache on my upper lip, I could find my own ride home from the airport…and I’d be sleeping on the couch until the growth was removed.)
Plus, I’m a public affairs officer. What if I’m needed to give a statement to the media or appear on camera for a TV interview? Would I come across as a professional representative for the Air Force with a scraggly bit of peach fuzz resembling a severely malnourished caterpillar adorning my upper lip?
These thoughts coursed through my mind as I stood there, weighing the pros and cons of participating in the yearly tradition against maintaining my usual, freshly-shorn face. After several moments of agonizing, I made my decision. I pressed the razor to my skin and began to shave.
I simply have to face the facts: I’m no Tom Selleck. Even at the ripe old age of 35, I still can’t grow what can be even remotely considered a real mustache. For this reason, I regretfully will not participate in Mustache March 2015. For those of you who can pull off the mustache, I salute you and give my full support to your brave, month-long endeavor.
May your whiskers sprout thick and true and may no inadvertent slip of a razor blemish their growth. A part of me envies your facial hair generation ability. In a way, I feel like I’m missing out on a part of Air Force heritage and tradition. But in another way, I’m quite pleased with my decision to remain clean shaven.
The fact is, I honestly couldn’t have taken sleeping on the couch for an entire month, not even for the sake of tradition.