Trent Ernst, Editor
My brother used to tell my dad that he thought I was gay.
(This was back in the day when society wasn’t quite so progressive, and saying “your son is gay” was the equivalent of telling someone now there son has run off to join al Qaeda.)
My dad was a cop: a big, burly, manly man. We lived in a small town at the time, and after a few years working there, it was time for him to move on, because it becomes awkward to give out tickets when, as with Cheers, everyone knows your name: “Do you realize how fast you were going, Sam?” “Do you realize that I write your cheques, Vern?”
So he started working in the city and coming home at night. Then he got a place there and only came home on weekends. Then he stopped coming home at all.
I was nearly a decade younger than my two older siblings, so this didn’t seem unusual for me. It was just the way it was.
My brother, however, was not that impressed with the situation. “Trent needs a strong male influence in his life,” he told my father one day. “He’s being raised by his mother. He’s lacking that masculine influence. I think he’s gay.”
Of course, he said this just to spite my father, and he didn’t say it in front of me, so I continued on my blissful way. I wasn’t gay; I was just nice (which amounted to about the same thing, it seems, when it came to getting, or more to the point, not getting, the girls, but that’s another story).
I can’t blame him for making the insinuation. In grade 7, for instance, I insisted on wearing pastel dress shirts and a white sports coat. It was the 1980s, and I was trying to be like Don Johnson in Miami Vice. Sure, I was growing up in a small prairie town in Northern Canada, but I wanted to dress like a Hollywood star.
Looking back, it was a rather large fashion faux pas. Never mind that clothes hate me and hang from me as elegantly as if draped on a sack of corn; the sport’s coat was about two sizes too small. Imagine said sack of corn stuffed into a white suit jacket and a pastel green dress shirt. Now take and stick a brown Q-tip out the top and slap a pair of ugly tortoiseshell glasses on it and you have a sense of what it looked like.
Eat your heart out, Johnson.
Heck, if I could have, I would have gone for the full-on Crockett look, complete with three day growth of stubble, but I was in grade 7 and had baby face cheeks upon which only a few patchy clumps of peach fuzz would grow. It was not a pretty sight. Instead of looking manly, like Crocket, I looked…well, you know.
It was about that time that I stopped shaving my upper lip to see if anyone noticed my moustache.
I was in first year of college, when someone finally reached over and tickled my upper lip. (I think it was Lionel) “Getting a little fuzzy there, aren’t we?” Six years. Six freaking years I went without shaving my ’stash.
For the first couple of years, the fact that nobody noticed my moustache (a few feathery strands of fuzz at the corner of my lips) offended me. But as time grew on, it became an in-joke shared only by me. How long could I go without shaving? Perhaps I was destined to only ever be able to grow a neck beard. Which seemed appropriate. I was after all both Mennonite and a fan of Apple Computers.
That very evening I went back to my dorm and shaved my upper lip.
Even now, it takes a fair bit of a run at it to grow the hair above my lip, which is why, once it has grown, I tend to leave it there. It has been this way ever since I could muster enough facial hair to cover that portion of my face.
Which is why I celebrate (and envy) the testosterone laden mo-bros who can grow decent moustaches for Movember. These are the few. The proud. The hairy. And I invite you to support them, too, in their cause to raise money to eradicate prostate cancer.