Moustache vs. Moustache, and why a person should even bother

Packing the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on Saturday, whiskery men pitted their facial hair one against another at the 2012 West Coast Beard and Mustache Championships. They competed in categories that included natural mustache, chops-style mustache, freestyle mustache, full natural beard and partial beard.

In honor of the competition, which the "Portlandia" blog covered here, I've talked with a few men across the country about the moustachioed way of life. Nashville web developer Michael Eades, creator of Moustache May, a month-long competition in which participants grow a 'stache and post its picture to a website every day for a month, encourages everyone with the potential to grow a 'stache to at least try. Not doing so, he says, "is like having a pair of wings and never bothering to try and fly."

Here's what Eades and a few other 'stache wearers have to say about the upper lip accoutrement:

Name: Casey Paquet Age: 33 Location: St. Petersburg, FL Occupation: Director of Web Services for a private liberal arts college Favorite kind of moustache: Handlebar, “because it seems to be a lost art.” Most common reaction: “I am shocked at how many people want to touch it. A lot of folks actually swoop in to take hold of it without asking, which is rather awkward.” Grooming regimen: “I am REALLY bad about grooming. I often say I wish I could find a moustache mentor — some old dude that could teach me the proper method of grooming.” Why should someone grow a moustache: “For the most part, the gentleman wearing the non-ironic moustache displays an air of confidence, a willingness to take the risk that a bare chin and cookie duster poses.”

Name: Michael Eades Age: 31 Location: Nashville, TN Occupation: Web developer Favorite kind of moustache: “The Handlebar ‘stache style is absolutely my favorite. There's a regalness to it that no other `stache configuration seems to be able to embrace.” Hardest food to eat: “Most food isn't that hard to eat with a properly groomed ‘stache but occasionally a good beer will find its foamy way into the trouble zone.” Grooming regimen: “I trim the ‘stache up every few weeks to keep it free of stray hairs and to keep its overall shape. I usually apply a tiny bit of wax to it each day as well, so give it the proper curl.” Most common reaction: “I do occasionally get hollered at by at a group of drunken frat guys who tell me it's a ‘bitchin' moustache.’ I take this as a compliment.”

Name: Johnny Mayer Age: 24 Location: Portland, Oregon Employer: Rocco’s Bar Grill and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade Why he has a moustache: “I enjoy it. I have a good facial shape for it.” Moustache realization: It’s not a cure-all. When I was 16 or 17, I worked at Safeway. Everyone in the produce department and upper management had a moustache. I thought if I grew one, I could advance up the ranks. But I later found out I didn’t work hard enough.” Hardest food to eat: “Anything with sauce.” Grooming regimen: “I trim it every once in a while when it gets scary. I don’t really take care of it. I wear it; it doesn’t wear me.”

Name: Adam Orcutt Age: 37 Location: Northwest Indiana Favorite kind of moustache: “I have always been inspired by the wild west, so I decided to grow a Hungarian/wild west style moustache. That is what I currently have and I think I am sticking with it for the long haul.” What a ‘stache says about a person: “I think having a moustache tells the world the you have confidence and you take pride in how you look. I find most people that wear moustaches to be honest, outgoing, and usually up for most anything.”

Name: Jay Wiggins Age: 39 Location: Phoenix, Arizona The psychology of moustache wearing: “You begin with the moustache wearing you, and then you start wearing the moustache. There’s an acceptance that happens psychologically. There’s a point at which it becomes part of you.” Most common reaction: “At baseball games and things like that, people always want to give me a high five. I enjoy that part of it.” Hardest food to eat: “Pretty much all foods are annoying.” Grooming regimen: “In the morning, I put a little bit of hair wax to curl it up and out. I’ll trim the lip portion.” Why ‘staches are great: “There’s a whimsy and novelty about it.”

Name: Aaron Aninos Age: 26 Location: Concord, North Carolina Occupation: Graphic Design student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Why he enjoys having a moustache: “It keeps my upper lip warm during the winter, and it also serves as a ‘flavor savor’ when I'm drinking a nice frothy beer, preferably a Fat Tire.” Hardest food to eat: “Anything with a thick and heavy sauce. Which sucks, because I'm half Italian.” Why someone should grow a moustache: “I see growing a moustache to show that you have confidence in yourself and dedication, extraordinary managerial qualities, and in most cases you probably are a huge fan of Tom Selleck.”

The Q&A was compiled in 2010.