Stash the ‘stache? And the Verdict Is…

BY Paul Solman  August 23, 2012 at 1:01 PM EDT

America has spoken. Or, to be more accurate, 80 percent of my grandchildren have (the fifth was born in March) and a slightly smaller portion of the population as a whole. The question my colleagues posted on Making Sen$e: Should I or shouldn’t I regrow the mustache that has camouflaged my upper lip since the year the Beatles disbanded and the Ford Pinto was introduced? I shaved it several weeks ago so my family could finally see me, sans soup strainer.

Well, the votes are in and ‘stache beats “stash” by a 57 to 43 percent margin. Curiously, these are almost exactly the odds of President Obama being reelected as I write this, according to the prediction market at intrade.com. (The Iowa Electronic Market has the odds of reelection at 60 percent.)

But back to my upper lip. There are those who, like a woman on the streets of Brookline the other day, insist that whisker-free, I look younger. That’s because of increasing salt deposits amidst the pepper, I take it. And while women may consider youthfulness an unambiguous positive, men — who made up fully two-thirds of those voting — seem to feel otherwise. Afraid of competition from youthful broadcast icons, one wonders? Looking for father figures? Expressing solidarity, as they themselves may be similarly befurred? Who’s to say? But surely, male ballots must be given equal weight with those of females: one man, one vote. Moreover, even were the tide turning anti-’stache, who can ignore this emissive from a renowned “Institute”?

‘While you may find this pondering somewhat amusing, we at the American Mustache Institute (AmericanMustacheInstitute.org) find it rather deplorable. We should note biblical text — specifically the Dead Sea Scrolls — which specifically state that “each time a mustache is shaved, an angel in heaven dies and falls to earth.” And beyond that, consider the discrimination that people of Mustached American heritage have faced since WWII, and that you presently serve as a shining beacon of freedom in our community. Please rethink these unwholesome thoughts.’

I must say that the Institute’s Dead Sea Scroll citation strains my credulity even more than my face brush does the soup I slurp. Yes, I am aware that for years the precious parchments were jealously overprotected. But a few of the Qumran chronicles are now digitized and can be searched online. When I enter “mustache,” however: zero results. Nor are there any for “whiskers.” And surely the AMI does not mean Chapter 7: Verse 20 of the “Great Isaiah Scroll, which reads:

“In that day [of discord and two kings] shall the L-rd shave with a razor that is hired in the parts beyond the River, even with the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet; and it shall also sweep away the beard.”

Nevertheless, the Institute should be happy to hear that the Making Sen$e public agrees with my grandchildren and fellow workers: the mustache shall return, if more as stubble than overgrowth.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions