On Fathers and Facial Hair

I have never had a close relationship with my father.

He provided the basic necessities for living—a roof over our head and food—but nothing more. Some even question whether he provided the basics—my childhood house had no central heat and no running water—but I always accepted that he provided as best as he could. To me, at any rate, I believe that this is who my father is. He is a provider. 

Growing up he was always there. He only drank occasionally. He was never violent or angry. He never hit me. He also never hugged me. He did have a problem with gays, like everyone back then, but it was never directed at me. I certainly never came out to my parents. He provided. That's it.

What I craved as a child, and what every child craves, was love, nurturing, and guidance from my father. Most boy's fathers teach them things. They teach them about life. They teach them how to behave. They teach them how to treat each other. They teach them how to live. And most importantly, they teach them, either actively (by showing) or passively (by his own behaviour), about how to be a man.

Tom, circa 1984ish.

Tom, circa 1984ish.

And one of the things that every father teaches his son is how to shave. It is the simplest of lessons that a father can pass on to his son. My father did not teach me that. In fact, I don't recall him actively teaching me anything as a teenager. That was probably just my perception but still I was certainly never taught how to shave. As a result, the moustache that grew in, was the moustache that stayed. I was never taught how to take it off. If you are looking up old high school photos of me i develop a progressively larger moustache as the years go by. I was never taught how to shave.

Now if I had grown up in a family without a father others might have stepped up and taken me aside. Grownups. Friends. Relatives. Anyone, really. But I had a father. They should be forgiven for assuming that he would have taught me how to shave. He should have. Therefore, in everyone else's eyes my lack of shaving was nothing but me wanting to grow a moustache.

I also could have asked for help. I seemed to learn at a very early day that if you want something done you need to do it yourself. As a child I did not know how to ask for help. Still have trouble with that today. Lifelong patterns and all that.

I grew my moustache because I didn't know how to shave it off. I didn't have the tools. I didn't have the techniques. I just didn't know.

When I moved out to go to university was when I bought my first razor. I was 19 or 20. I picked up some techniques on how to shave from the men in my life but mostly I taught myself. But even with my new-found razor the moustache just stayed. It had become some sort of trademark. Tom has a moustache. The goatee has come and gone. I occasionally grow a beard but always shave it off as I don't have enough hair on my jowls to actually call it a beard. I have always had a moustache.

There is so much history tied up into a little piece of hair below my nose. So much significance.

To me a moustache was always a sign of masculinity. Both mine and in the men that I dated. If they didn't have a moustache I wouldn't date them. I still find facial hair incredibly sexy. But things change. Time move on. As we get older we gain a new perspective on life. I love my father for what he did for me, but it wasn't enough. It makes me wonder why he was who he was and why he wasn't there for me in the way I needed him to be. But above it all, i accept that that is who he was and I am who I am because of it.

I am a middle aged man now. Life moves on. Things change. But the mustache remains. A sign of the relationship with my father.

Time to change things up.