Jem Beedoo

Jem Beedoo is an Auckland writer

Jem Beedoo: Humbling hairy slugs still leave masculine trails

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The moustache. The mo'. The moussy. The tache. The slug. It's the thing these days, culturally speaking. And how can we blame it for being so? In as many words, we can't. The mo' is definitely the go; the tache is where it's at. A man is a more of a man with a moustache, purely and simply, culturally and psycho-geographically.

Beer won't do in defining hyper-masculinity anymore, it just won't do; the product was invented by a woman, for Pete's sake. Now, you could say, "everything was invented by a woman", as a womb-man is the source of all men and all men invented almost everything. Fine, and that's fine. So we factually didn't invent beer.

We men invented the moustache, mind you. And a moustache will not make you into a mountainous mound of cellulite through over-use, like beer will. No, a moustache will tell you, "I derive from the 1970s, man: a time when drunkenness was still glamorous, smoking was still sophisticated and garish taste in all things was celebrated".

In short, when life was a laugh.

The mo' is a laugh, a lark - it really isn't serious. Hindus wear moustaches as status symbols, signs of prestige, but Hindu cosmology contends all life is a big act. A moustachioed man thus imparts implicitly "this isn't the real me, but isn't it brilliant, anyway?" In other words, the moussy, while obtaining temporal prestige, is a very handy mask for a temporal existence. It hides your life away while paradoxically nudging at your funny bone. People plainly get the giggles with and around moustaches - they're screamingly funny.

The strange thing is, though, a moustache makes a man look more serious than normal, in that it resembles a hairy frown, overriding and overshadowing the actual mouth and smile. A kind of mouth brow, if you will. Therein lies the paradox. Need I remind you, Napoleon Dynamite, one of the most absurdly serious characters of the silver screen from the selfsame film, wistfully wished he could grow a moustache, in the way his pal Pedro could, in the famous cafeteria scene? The dichotomies and ironies are fascinating.

Crucially, a slug makes a suited gentleman less gentle, brings out what Lawrence would call "the unbroken spark in him" and puts the "men" back in menacing. Indeed a suit and a moustache is a hyper-masculine combination, no matter what way you look at it.

Further, there's something unsettling about a tache with a suit, in a ridiculous sort of way. I mean you couldn't have James Bond running round with one. It would detract from his annoyingly perfect nature.

Further, a beard with a suit can't achieve what a mo' can; unless you want to look like Barry Gibb at the Grammys. To be fair, the falsetto singer from the Bee Gees isn't renowned as the manliest of men, is he? Additionally, I can't recall his partying days and he's never been funny. Give me Ron Burgundy any day, even though he isn't real. Voila! More irony.

In sum, I know that not one of us is perfect; I know that I'm not perfect. The slug serves to humanise us, humbly indicating there's always a fly in the ointment, as the cliche goes. Without one, man is perfect, but not every one wants to be Roger Federer, do they? It's like the spiritual guru who smokes and drinks - his behaviour delineates he's human after all.

- NZ Herald

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