Finally, I can do something a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman can do.
For most of November, academy midshipmen were permitted to grow a mustache to promote men's health issues. It was the first "No-Shave November" in Naval Academy history.
I've always known I am not and will never be academy material for several reasons:
- The shearing of my hair.
- Waking up very early against my will.
- Waking up very early against my will to perform physically and mentally demanding exercises that do not involve having a leisurely breakfast and perhaps going back to sleep for 20 minutes.
- Math and science.
- Remembering to say "Sir, yes, sir" and not "Aye Aye Captain" or "Chips Ahoy."
I've had to come to peace with something about myself. I'm a civilian. A civilian weenie.
I sweat just watching midshipmen "jog" through downtown Annapolis at a pace I categorize as Olympic sprinting.
A productive morning is finding two matching black dress socks for work. I couldn't bear putting any more pressure on my dress code.
And the academy's distinguished noon formation? I'd probably sleep through it. I miss my teeth cleanings, and I plan them six months in advance.
But I can grow a mustache, sir, yes, sir.
Just like midshipmen Eric Viscardi, James Mackovjak and Bray Wilcock. It was Wilcock's idea to ask the academy leadership to approve the facial hair exercise. Wilcock, a man after my own heart, admittedly is not sporting a robust mustache. Depending on the sun's angle and intensity, one can theoretically detect a hair formation on the young man's upper lip.
Takes me back to my early civilian life when I attempted many a 'stache. Given my Nordic roots, the genetic deck was stacked against me (unlike a kid named Jeff I knew who was shaving at 14 months. I think he was Greek).
I was more stealthy. I often went three, four months before anyone noticed my facial hair, and then it was usually my mom, which defeated some unclear purpose. I'd like to think I just didn't want to spring my mannish growth too soon on anyone. It wouldn't have been fair to the women folk.
The only thing more imperceptible than my mustache was my beard. I once spent two years on one beard. I shaved it off -- although "shaving" is too strident a verb -- after my beard was mistaken for human crabgrass. This can hurt a boy.
But I'm a man now. Not to brag, but if I wanted to dedicate, say, 2014, to a beard, I could grow one within the calendar year. And I can grow a Ron Burgundy mustache with no sweat. Because finally I can do something a midshipman can do.
If only for a month.