As a man who has sported a mustache for the past 40 years, following in the grand tradition of such hirsute heroes as Mark Twain, Groucho Marx and my late grandmother, it gives me great pleasure and a persistent itching sensation to announce that I was recently named Mustached American of the Day.
This honor was bestowed upon me by the American Mustache Institute, an esteemed organization that not only is dedicated to fighting discrimination against people with facial hair, but does not, technically, exist anymore.
“Congratulations on the 40th anniversary of your mustache!” AMI president Adam Causgrove said when I called to thank him for lowering the otherwise high standards of the institute, which ceased formal operations late last year but “will live forever in our hearts and on the internet.”
AMI, which Causgrove said is headquartered “in my bedroom” in Pittsburgh, will next year resurrect the International Mustache Hall of Fame, whose members include Theodore Roosevelt, Salvador Dali and Burt Reynolds.
“You could be eligible,” he told me, adding: “You don’t have to be dead to get in.”
But AMI no longer bestows the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award, which Causgrove won in 2012 and I came close to winning in 2010.
“That was an impressive showing,” said Causgrove, referring to my second-place finish, in which I received 80,000 votes, presumably from people who now suffer from RSI (Repetitive ‘Stache Injury).
I lost by a whisker to a Florida firefighter named Brian Sheets but beat out such alleged celebrities as then-major league pitcher and New Britain native Carl Pavano, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten and entertainer Brandon Wardell, who was endorsed by model and actress Brooke Shields.
I was endorsed by my even more beautiful wife, Sue, who is the reason I have a mustache.
In 1979, a year after we were married, I had surgery for a deviated septum and afterward was swathed in bandages that covered my tender nose and naked upper lip. I bore a frightening resemblance to Boris Karloff in “The Mummy,” mainly because I was not yet “The Daddy.”
When the bandages came off, I had a chevron mustache, which does not, unfortunately, get me a discount at Chevron gas stations.
“I like it!” Sue exclaimed, politely not mentioning the rest of my face.
So I kept the lip rug, which I have been told by people with astigmatism makes me look like Tom Selleck, minus the talent, charisma and money.
“What a heartwarming story!” said Causgrove, 35, who works in corporate relations at Carnegie Mellon University and who for the past eight years has sported his award-winning handlebar mustache, which has the endorsement of his wife, Chelsea, whom he lovingly calls “the first lady of mustachery.”
In recognition of my four decades of mustachery, Causgrove issued a proclamation that read, in part:
“Jerry Zezima Ruby Anniversary of Acclaimed Mouthbrow
“WHEREAS, In the year 1979, a young Jerry Zezima embarked on a brave and noble journey into the sexually dynamic Mustached American lifestyle.
“WHEREAS, “By embracing his facial foliage … Jerry has risen to the peaks of his profession in the Stamford, Connecticut-based humor columnist community …
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, Chief Executive of the American Mustache Institute, Dr. Adam Paul Causgrove, declare that through a rigorous review process, steeped in the science of nuclear mustacheology and augmented with fine American bourbon … the Honorable Mr. Jerry Zezima … is to be saluted, ogled, venerated and praised — in that particular order.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my mustache,” I told Causgrove. “For once in my life, I’m speechless.”
“I’m sure your wife would endorse that, too,” he said. “And she would agree that it’s not just lip service.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media and is the author of four books. His latest is “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures.” Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net. Blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com.