Must Not Mustache: Young White Men Can’t Be Taken Seriously with a Mustache

Why do none of my friends have a mustache?  I’d say a lot of it has to do with the fact that most of my friends are within 5 years of my age, meaning that I don’t know any 24 to 34 year olds who are mustachioed.  The mustache could quite possibly be a dying tradition, with the exception of cops.

Recently I saw an independent movie called Margot at the Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman and Jewish comedian Jack Black.  For the first 30 minutes of the movie, Jack Black has a mustache.  During that time, he apologetically explains to everyone that he recently had a beard but while he was shaving it off he thought it would be funny to just keep a mustache.  But eventually he shaves it because he doesn’t feel like he can be taken seriously by anyone.

Good point.

Can a man under the age of, let’s say, 40 years old be taken seriously if he has a mustache?

Yes.  But there are definite rules to making it work:

1)     Be a cop, as previously mentioned.  It just sort of goes with the job.  In fact, I don’t think I could take a cop seriously UNLESS he has a mustache.

OR

2)     Be an African American man.  I’ve never seen an African American man who didn’t look good with a mustache.  Will Smith is the epitome.  In fact, I remember on the show Scrubs when Donald Faison shaved his mustache, it bothered me.  Heck, African American men can even pull off the even riskier goatee without exception.  (See Chris Rock and/or Darius Rucker.)

It’s no coincidence that in the sitcom My Name is Earl that Earl Hickey had a mustache.  He was a white guy under 40 who was a loveable idiot.  To enhance his character trait of being out of touch of social expectations, he had to have a mustache.

What’s really interesting is that in a recent study, it was discovered that mustachioed men earn 8% per more money that bearded men, and 4% more than clean shaven men.  Not only that, but men with mustaches are more likely to hired during a job interview.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/business/Study-More-Mustache–More-Money-63930997.html

So does that mean that I am being discriminated against by my own society?  A culture that refuses to take seriously white men with mustaches under 40?  Am I simply at a disadvantage until 11 years from now when I become of age?

I am missing out on a 4% to 8% salary increase over this.  Maybe it’s worth a shot to at least try.

(Looks to stage left, rubs chin for dramatic effect, then begins to plot a bad idea…)

Click here to see what happened next: Operation: Mustache (A Social Experiment)

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on mustaches, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

TMTT (Too Much Trouble to Talk)

According the September 19, 2008 issue of the New York Times, in America there are now more text messages transmitted through cell phones than actual calls. It almost seems hard to believe, but that’s probably because I am assuming it’s only me that’s texting more times a day than calling. But maybe for once, I’m normal…

For some reason, I like those black-and-white commercials for Sprint featuring personal messages from the CEO, Dan Hesse. In the commercial where he’s at the café, he tell us, “It’s amazing we still call these things ‘phones’, considering all they can do.” He’s right. That reminds me of Ernest (the one that goes to camp, jail, etc.) who one time talked about all the cool features his watch had: flashlight, can opener, calculator, etc. The only problem is, he couldn’t figure out how to make it tell time.

I’ve got the Samsung version of the i-Phone and yes, it does everything. But I mainly got it because of the full keyboard for texting. (I think as an English major, it’s hard for me to purposely misspell words even when texting- it feels sinful.)  It’s becoming pretty clear to me:  it’s just become too much trouble to talk.

For me, it all started with the fact I hate checking voicemails. It’s a lot of trouble: Go to your voicemail. Enter your password. Listen to old voicemails you haven’t erased. Listen to the actual new voicemail. Erase it. Call the person back. Yikes!

And leaving a voicemail isn’t much better because you have to listen to that annoying speech that’s not news to you: “The person you are calling is unavailable. If you would like to page this person, press 5. If you would like to leave a voicemail, press 1. If you would like to leave a call-back number, press 4…” Come on! Who actually pages someone on a cell phone? Instead I text them. They shouldn’t make me listen to that instructional message. It should just say, “Leave a message”. Then I could save 45 seconds.

I realize this all may be a little biased in that I’m a guy and I communicate like a man, not a woman. A man communicates to exchange facts. A woman communicates to strengthen her relationships with the people in her life. But still, texting helps both genders accomplish their goals in their communication needs.

Speaking of communication (unfortunate pun), I’ve noticed a definite pattern in online networking sites. Everybody thought MySpace was cool at first. Then came the creeps and the spam. And it was too hard to know who “The Big Kenny” or “Georgia Princess” is. So we all converted our allegiance to facebook. And yes, facebook is unbeatable. It’s very easy to find the “friends” and it keeps you posted on any news with your them. Why? So we don’t have to ask them ourselves…

Not only do I not need to call Alex Igou but I don’t really even have to send him a message on facebook. I can just look at his “info” and learn where he lives, where he went to college, and if he’s married now. And if there is any other important info I would need to know, like that he’s going back home to Fort Payne, AL this weekend, he will put that in the “Alex is” section and that’ll show up on my news feed.

It’s just too easy not to talk to people.   And I think for that very reason, now more than ever, I have this desire to actually spend time with people. There is a major amount of “catching up” with someone that I just can’t do through a phone call, text, or facebook transaction. Maybe with enough hang time, I can slowly learn to talk again.

texting

Romantic Comedy: Subliminal Sexual Messages in Commercials

Using sex to sell a product isn’t always as blatant as Hardee’s (Carl’s Jr.) featuring Paris Hilton using her whole body to wash a car while eating a Thickburger as part of their “More Than a Piece of Meat” campaign. In 2005 when my sister and I shared an apartment in college, she casually made a comment one time that has changed my view on Red Lobster forever. We were watching a commercial for their “Unlimited Shrimp” special. She simply said, “They’re trying to make that shrimp look sexy.” Good call. Now, anytime I watch a Red Lobster commercial I can’t help but notice it.

For the last several years, Red Lobster’s commercials have only been showing food; no people. The food itself is used to symbolize parts of the human body and the actions of the bedroom. The music is jazzy and sophisticated, with “ooh’s” and “ah’s” in the background vocals. The camera speed is slow. The atmosphere is steamy. Words such as “indulge”, “temptation”, “sensational”, “succulent”, and “peak” are often used.

That’s what makes for good subliminal advertising: It’s so much a part of the background that it takes someone pointing it out before it can be seen by the public. Either I’m as immature as an 8th grade boy, or the clever advertisers working for Red Lobster are being so subtle that no one seems to notice.

Whereas Hardee’s uses suggestive advertising in a more pornographic style and offends people, Red Lobster is sophisticated and does it subliminally… and totally gets away with it. Because who would call them out on it and risked being labeled as having a dirty mind? Me.

The first random, most recent commercial I found:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzpNNbzMQA

A link to a website that reveals some other subliminal advertisements. Some are a bit of a stretch and some are pretty risque. Plus the guy who commentates is more crass than I am about it. But I did think it is interesting.
http://www.artistmike.com/Temp/SubliminalAd.html

The Teaching of Mr. Miyagi: Avoiding Awkwardness, Confrontations, and Fights

 

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who complain at restaurants about their order being less than perfect and those who just let it go. I have learned that my wife and I are the ones that don’t complain and just overlook it. The last thing we want when we’re out to enjoy a nice meal is a confrontation. It’s just not worth it to us to 1) call the waiter to the table and explain why our order is not right, 2) have to listen to him apologize, 3) have the manager come to our table and apologize and tell us our meal is free, 4) accept a free meal on account of someone’s minor mistake. I hate feeling awkward. It’s one of my quirks.

In a great movie that was made ten years ago called Fight Club, leader Tyler Durden gives his members a homework assignment: Start a fight with someone and lose. He then explains, “Most people, normal people, do anything to avoid a confrontation.” I can definitely vouch for that.

Why did telemarketing lasted for so long in our country’s history (until President Bush outlawed it a few years ago)? Because annoying and aggressive telemarketers were ultimately successful. While most people had enough confidence to politely say “no thanks” and hang up, many people caved to the confrontation. They would rather commit to a magazine subscription for two years and “not make the other person feel bad”. Or worse, become a victim of a time-share related pyramid scheme by a “friend”.

For every 30 no’s, there was one yes. And that yes brought good profit. Same thing applies to those annoying salesman in the middle isles at the mall that want to “give you a free ring cleaning”, A.K.A.- try to sell people something to clean their ring with.

I don’t have a problem with confronting someone if it’s about something important. But if it’s not, then it’s better time management to just avoid the situation. I don’t like having to argue with someone when I am solid in my decision. If I am asked to buy something or do something I don’t want to do, the answer is no. And if I’m further asked, then just to spite the person I tend to get aggressive with them, then later spend time thinking about how annoying they where. So my rule of thumb is the same as the point of the 1986 film Karate Kid Part II- the best way to win a fight is to avoid it.

Tips:


1) When at the mall or walking into or out of a Wal-Mart on Saturday, I put my cell phone up to my ear when I see a salesman. They prey on the weak and undistracted.
2) When someone is calling me on my cell phone from a number that is not already programmed as one of  my contacts, don’t answer it. It is definitely someone I don’t want to talk to.
3) When at a restaurant, order salmon, not steak. Then I don’t have to worry about my meal being undercooked. Also, I won’t be tempted so say the cliché phrase that your steak is “still mooing at me”.
4) When at the movies and I realize I’m sitting in front of some punk teenage kids that are going to be talking during the movie and putting their feet on the back of my seat, I just get up and sit somewhere else. They’re idiots and no matter how nicely I tell them, they’re gonna be annoying anyway.

The Realistic Fear of Being Awkward in Public

 

Growing up in a relatively small Baptist church, I know that overwhelming feeling of awkwardness I would get during at least one Sunday a month when the “special music” (the solo) is sung by someone who causes a deacon to utter “bless ‘em Lord” instead of “Amen!”. The kind of soloist that makes you look around for Simon Cowell to save the day. The kind of song that has a weird flute solo after the 2nd verse, and painfully ends with nothing but music for a full minute after the singing part is finished, leaving the soloist to either engage in a staring contest with the congregation or recite a somewhat related Bible verse to fill the gap.

I think I was scarred psychologically from it. My hands would always start shaking and my sister would have to whisper/shout for me to stop before I realized I was beginning to make a scene. It is very, very difficult for me to deal with situations like that.  Recently watching Clint Black auctioning jewelry on The Apprentice on Sunday gave me a fresh image of this kind of awfulness.

Maybe I’m just too empathetic. Maybe more than the average person, I too easily put myself in other people’s shoes. Maybe the reason this situation makes me so nervous is that I have a hidden fear of being in front of people with nothing to say or do. Many people have this nightmare that they are naked in public. But it’s the fear of public awkwardness that terrifies me.

When Someone Says, “Did You Know?” Before a Sentence, It Usually Means They are About to Spread an Urban Legend

Want to know if you’re gullible?


The next time someone starts a question with the words “did you know”, and you believe their amazing fact, and even worse, you tell somebody else this news with enthusiasm, consider yourself part of the noise. Here are a few examples: “Did you know there are alligators living in the sewers of New York City?” “Did you know that each year the average person swallows eight spiders in their sleep?” “Did you know that if you die in a dream, you die in real life?”

Unless you’ve recently watched an episode of MythBusters and you know for a fact it’s been proven to be true, it’s not true. If you don’t know positively that it’s a fact, then what you should say is, “You know, I heard…” That is completely acceptable. That encourages healthy conversation.

The temptation is there, even for the best of us. Earlier today my aunt sent me an email letting me know that one of her friends will be at the Dave Matthews concert this weekend in Nashville. In my reply I said, “Did you know that Dave Matthews is considered an African-American because he was born and grew up in South Africa? Then I had to stop myself and delete “did you know” and replace it with “I learned a few days ago that…”

Not always, but often “did you know” is a red flag that what comes after it is some random bit of knowledge that holds no truth. Test this theory out. Surely in the next few days, if not hours, you’ll hear somebody say it. Don’t call them out on it, just quietly retreat to Wikipedia so at least in your own heart, you can prove them to be an attention-grabbing “did-you-knower” without the goods.

How to Hang Out with Friends and Have Fun

 

An instinct we had as kids is that we always knew how to hang out, without a plan or agenda. In the way that Adam and Eve were not at first aware of their nakedness, we used to have the blessing of being unaware of social awkwardness and social cues. It’s an ability that began to escape us sometime around junior high. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter which friend I was hanging out with after school or spending the night with, we never got bored or recognized that we were about to run out of activities or subjects to talk about.

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that as kids we knew “how to play”. Though I may not be a girl, I remember my sister and her friends always seemed to be playing “House”. Females socialize. Males, on the other hand, compete.

As boys we would go outside, often to the woods, to play out some sort of good guys/bad guys scenario. Our version of “Cops and Robbers” was more like Ninja Turtles Vs. Shredder. Bikes and water balloons were often part of the plan. When we got tired, we’d go inside and play Nintendo until we had regained enough energy to initiate a wrestling match on the carpet. And there was the trampoline too. Hours of fun.

But as adults, we don’t use “playing” anymore as the main way to interact with our friends.

It’s not as simple as an adult just to tell a friend, “Let’s hang out at my house after work today”. In many cases, the hanging out is done outside of the home. Instead of playing like we did as kids, adults talk and “catch up”. But there is always a staple to bring the people together. It may be sharing a meal, going to watch a game or movie, or a showing up at a party associated with a holiday or sports event.

But the most simple and common thing I see is people going out for coffee, beer, or wine. The drink serves as a campfire. In the same way people gather around a campfire and find comfort in it with those around them, a drink of choice magically sets the fertile environment for good conversation no matter the location. If by chance the friends find themselves in a noticeably quiet moment, it’s easy to fall back on the easy conversation piece: “Starbucks is wonderful”, “Good beer”, or “I love this wine.” Obviously it’s good. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be the modern day campfire.

The one exception and yet another reason to love Paul Rudd in a bromantic situation…