But there’s one odd little fraternity whose members are instantly recognizable on the streets: The Egyptian Society for the Promotion of Special Mustaches.
I first read about this group three years ago in a story published by Egypt Today magazine and I’ve since spotted several members throughout the city. You can’t miss them; they’ve turned their facial hair into elaborate, outlandish works of art. Think Yosemite Sam, Fu Manchu, Salvador Dali and Pancho Villa.
Last night, some friends and I were driving along a busy downtown street when we noticed a ruckus on the sidewalk. A gaggle of teenage boys was snapping photos of a massive man who had big, black, hairy triangles sticking out from each side of his face. It was one of them, we yelled, one of those mustache guys!
Our car screeched to a halt and a girlfriend and I jumped out with a camera. Our friend Amir, who was behind the wheel, rolled his eyes and said we were on our own. We approached the guy, who was surrounded by fans like a rock star, and offered props on his fabulous ‘stache.
He towered over us, wanly smiling down like the proverbial gentle giant. As he posed with us for a snapshot, we noticed Amir emerging from the car with his own camera, succumbing to the allure of those waxed-tip handlebars.
“Thank you, thank you so much, glad you like it,” the man said, shaking hands with his admirers.
History has dealt the mustache a few blows throughout the years (Hitler, Saddam, male porn stars, state troopers), so it was refreshing to see a man take such pride in an affectation that ranks right up there with the mullet. The magazine article says members of the association, founded in 1987, often gather to trade styling tips and enter international contests. One meeting was to celebrate the 30th “birthday” of a member’s mustache.
We said goodbye to the hirsute hulk and walked back to the car, still giggling like starstruck kids. Then we realized we hadn’t gotten the guy’s name. Too bad Snidely Whiplash is taken; would’ve been perfect.