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The other day I cut off the mustache I've had since 1969.

For several years now, I've been secretly longing to get rid of the stupid thing.

It wasn't that good of a mustache. It was sparse and light-colored, not at all the image I was going for (you know, kind of a good-guy hippie look, like Robert Redford in 'Butch Cassidy,' or maybe one of the Byrds in about 1968).

See, I grew it in the first place to look older. I was 21 then but looked about 15. The facial hair didn't help that much. In fact, the first couple of years I was growing it, people kept asking, 'Are you growing a mustache?'

But, after 30 years or so, I really did start looking older. The old soup-strainer turned gray, and I began to look an awful lot like Wilford Brimley - who never was, by the way, in the Byrds.

And, of course, it became painfully clear to me that having a hairy upper lip told people I was more crazy old Vietnam-era dude than hip young open-minded guy, which is how I think of myself.

This is all meaningful only because - and it's fairly important to know this about me - I don't take to change lightly.

In fact, I think I can safely say that I hate change.

Let me give you some examples.

n I still have the Navy sunglasses I issued myself in 1969 when I worked in the flight gear section of the supply department on a helicopter base in Pensacola, Fla.

n I still have the turntable I bought that same year, on which I play long-playing record albums I bought even earlier than that.

n I'm still married to the same woman I first went out with on July 5, 1965, and whom I married May 13, 1967. I also still love her with all my heart.

n I still have the portable typewriter I got while I was a student at the University of Oregon. I don't use it, but I find solace in knowing it's still there, still not needing to be rebooted, upgraded or defragged.

n I'd still be driving my 1967 Volkswagen bug if it hadn't died underneath me in 1982 - and if the cost of an engine rebuild hadn't been way over the head of a weekly newspaper employee.

n When I'm in bed, I don't want to get up, and when I'm up, I don't want to go to bed.

I'm telling you, I hate change.

It bugs the heck out of me when I find an athletic shoe I like and then, after they wear out, I learn they don't make that kind any more.

I hate the fact that fashions change and pants legs get longer, then shorter, then longer and wider, then skinny again.

I don't like it when perfectly good comedians and TV shows and cartoons and musical groups come along, then disappear just when you get used to them.

Jonathan Winters, 'The Sopranos,' 'The Far Side' and Dire Straits come to mind.

Favorite radio stations have a way of going smooth-jazz overnight, and comfortable, affordable restaurants with good food change their format or disappear altogether.

Some things, of course, don't change much, and that's good.

'The Simpsons' is still on, and Merle Haggard is still making records. Buster's Barbecue hasn't closed, and except for the lunacy that strikes around Halloween every year, you can count on Value Village being pretty much the way you left it.

Presidential candidates like to talk about change a lot, but fortunately, they don't really mean it. As long as we have a president who's smarter than me and who doesn't declare war on a concept rather than a country (which, of course, excludes the current one), I don't really care who occupies the White House.

Last time I got worked up about things like that, I grew a mustache.

Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.

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