Johnny America


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

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Reader Comments

Jum wrote:

Holy Fa­cial Fol­lies! that’s more pleasin’ than watchun Lit­tle Jum suck on Aun­tie’s bloat­ed teat.
“What’s Rol­lie Fin­gers?” sweet je­sus that’s funny.

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