That Guy with the Handlebar Mustache


I don’t know you, but you know me.

I’m that guy with the handlebar mustache.

I’ve been that guy for 25 years now, maybe more.

You see me waiting for my bags at the airport or buying coffee at the truck stop. I also manage that BBQ restaurant you’ve been to a few times.

When you spot me, you nudge your buddy and say “Hey… look.” (While talking to your brother the next weekend you recall my face and say “you should’ve seen this guy with a handlebar mustache who was working at Chuckwagon Charlie’s.” And he replies, “oh yeah, remember that guy with the handlebar mustache playing horseshoes at the company picnic?” Indeed you remember. I do too.)

You see me at the grocery store. We pass going opposite ways down an aisle and you spot my handlebar mustache. When we pass again on the next aisle, you’ve prepared your kid for my handlebar mustache. He silently points at my face as you pass.

But I’m used to you and your kid. I’ve heard all the jokes, all the remarks.

“Hey look, it’s Rollie Fingers!” you say to your girlfriend, just loud enough for me to hear.

She notices my handlebar mustache, giggles then turns to you and says, “what’s Rollie Fingers?”

Sometimes you even stop me.

“I love the mustache; what do you call it?” you ask as your index finger makes a swirling motion up around your mouth.

“It’s a handlebar mustache,” I say, calmly, politely, recognizing your intended sincerity.

Do you really love my handlebar mustache? Would you grow one yourself?

You probably like its oddity. Or you may have seen me when you were little at that Cowboy Chili and Cornbread Cookoff and seeing my handlebar mustache brings you back to a simpler time in your life. Either way, I doubt you really love my handlebar mustache.

In the 25 years I’ve had the handlebar mustache, I’ve thought of shaving it 25 times (usually upon waking up from the dream where I’m trying to run but am held back by the handlebar of my handlebar mustache hooked around my waist.)

More than once I’ve thought that instead of being that guy with the handlebar mustache, I could be some other guy. Like that guy who always has a toothpick in his mouth. Or that guy with the beret. Or that guy with the long white beard and the bushy white hair who’s constantly getting the Kenny Rogers treatment.

But I always find myself stuck to the handlebar mustache.

I’ve thought of ways to better utilize it. I’ve thought about walking around on stilts at an amusement park, smiling and handing out plastic handlebar mustaches to youngsters. Or I’ve thought of customizing a bike to have handlebar mustache handlebars. I could ride around state fairs and be that guy at the state fair on the bike with the handlebar mustache handlebars.

I look in the mirror every morning and know that I could end it at any moment and become just a guy with a mustache.

I can live with the jokes, the comments, the stares. I can live with a style that — let’s face it — hit its peak in the mid-1800s.

Two snips and it would all go away. An insignificant amount of hair would lie unknowingly innocent on my bathroom sink. I wouldn’t feel a thing. But in the end I would no longer be that guy with the handlebar mustache.

Filed under Fiction on August 3rd, 2005