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Though Arguably the "Soul Patch" is Worse


Rich Cohen grows a Toothbrush, otherwise known as the Hitler Mustache:

I went out. In the street, some people looked at me, but most looked away. A few people said things after I passed. One man gave me a kind of Heil, but it was lackadaisical, and I am fairly certain he was being ironic. (People can be so mean!) Even friends said nothing until I asked, or else acted embarrassed for me. A woman said, “I think you were more handsome without the mustache.” I had been worried someone might try to hurt me. I imagined toughs from the Jewish Defense League attacking with throwing stars—Jewish throwing stars! But it turns out, when you shave like Hitler, you follow the same rule you follow with bees: They’re more scared of you than you are of them. Because either you really are Hitler, or you’re a nut. So people do with little Hitlers what people always do with lunatics in New York, the harmless or dangerous—they ignore, they avert, they move away. If you want to fly coach without being hassled, grow a Toothbrush mustache.

The whole piece — which is mostly a social and political history of the Toothbrush ‘stache — is really interesting. Evidently, Americans first introduced it to Germany in the late 19th century, when the ferocious and ornate kaiserbart dominated the nation’s upper lip. As Cohen points out, the blowback from that innovation was quite profound.

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