Friday, December 15, 2006

Call for Moustaches

As recently reported on NPR, Beard Team USA has offered soon-to-be former UN Ambassador John Bolton a position on the team's moustache squad. While John's moustache is not yet world championship caliber, John still has ample time before the next worlds to cultivate a winning 'stache. (Also known as a 'tache or a mo'.) Importantly, as NPR also reported, Senate confirmation is not necessary for membership on BTUSA.

In fact membership is open to everyone.

Actually BTUSA is actively recruiting moustache growers for the Brighton championships. Of the recently announced official categories for Brighton, nine of the seventeen are types of moustaches. BTUSA currently lacks depth in the moustache categories.

Ordinary moustaches won't do. While most American moustache wearers prefer to trim their upper lip hairs to stay out of their mouths, most of the categories are for moustaches grown wild and then tamed through the use of artificial aids such as waxes, gels, and sprays. See

BTUSA is encouraging John Bolton and other patriotic Americans to stop trimming those mo's NOW in training for Brighton.

The Way Forward

At the last World Beard and Moustache Championships held in Berlin in 2005, the USA took a wooping.

While it is probably not necessary to appoint a study group, nevertheless, if Beard Team USA is to succeed in its quest to make the USA a power in international facial hair competitions, it is now time to analyze the situation carefully, consider all points of view, and plan the way forward. It may be a bit of an exaggeration to say that the situation is grave and deteriorating, but at least one thing is clear: Staying the course will not lead to victory.

In Berlin, perennial powerhouse Germany won first-place trophies in fourteen of the seventeen categories. Our allies from Great Britain won two of the categories (FuManchu and, appropriately enough, English) while the USA had to settle for a face-saving but disappointing single gold by American hero Toot Joslin in the Sideburns category.

There is a good reason for Germany's overwhelming dominance. It has to do with the competition categories. Our German friends take the category descriptions very seriously. In the past, our approach for the most part was to simply show up with our beards and moustaches styled (or unstyled) the way we like them and hope that the judges liked them too. We emphasized individuality and self-expression while our German opponents focused on styling their facial hair to conform to the category descriptions. Whatever our personal philosophies might be, if we are to become a force at the WBMC, we now need to engage in category specific training.

The Handlebar Club recently announced the official rules and categories for Brighton. You can see them here. For the most part, the Handlebar Club has decided to go with the traditional categories as originally formulated by the German beard clubs. Notably, not all beards are treated equally. Also noteworthy is the fact that the categories are heavily weighted toward various unusual kinds of moustaches. In fact, out of the 17 categories, as many as nine of them are what English speakers would call moustaches. This is true even though moustaches seem less common today than beards.

At this point, the best strategy for members of America's team is to simply let their facial hair grow and see what develops. Shortly before the competition, we will be making stategic trimming decisions designed to bring victory to the USA.

But don't worry, while we may trim, we have no plans to cut and run. There will be no graceful exit by BTUSA.