Originally written between 1978 and 1980
Rewritten in Tucson, Arizona, November, 2007
Hunting the Wild Mustache
When I was courting Joanne it was my custom to finish my janitorial duties at UC Riverside’s library around 2:00 a.m. and immediately drive over to her home in El Monte so we could spend weekends together. At first I tried to sleep in the car until the family woke up. That was not very comfortable so I tried making a place for myself on the stack of hay bales in the barn. But very soon I was discovered by Joanne’s father, Sid, who liked to get up at 4:00 in the morning. He invited me in for a morning cup of coffee and the family set up a bed for me in Joanne’s brother’s room.
Her brother, Fritz, at that time sported a huge R.A.F. style mustache, luxuriant, bushy, with the tips waxed into rings.
One Saturday morning I woke to the pressure of little cat feet on my face. The family had taken in a new calico kitten and she was exploring her new, personal domain. She sat on my chest for a few moments and then looked across the room to where Fritz slept peacefully. As he exhaled the air from his nostrils blew through his mustache, ruffling the hair, creating strange, little rippling movements. The motion, accompanied by light snores fascinated the kitten. She had never seen anything like it.
She didn’t know what kind of small creature might be sitting there under Fritz’s nose, but she felt she would be doing him a favor if she killed it and ate it. Slowly she began to stalk the mustache. Off my bed and onto Fritz’s she leaped. Quietly. Softly. Over his knees she crept, onto his belly, his chest, pausing frequently to study the situation. Closer and closer she crept until finally, just as Fritz blissfully rippled his mustache again, the kitten sprang!
She landed on the mustache in approved fashion, mouth and claws open. Her claws and teeth were razor sharp, kitten like, and she produced a monumental effect. Fritz sprang into the air with a scream and batted the kitten from his face. She landed like a colorful little rubber ball, bounced off the door and out of the room. She was as surprised by the results of her attack as Fritz.
I laughed unsympathetically. I saw the humor because I didn’t have a mustache. Neither did Fritz after he shaved that morning.