Ever since getting the news, I had started obsessively checking my face. Look at me, it demanded. Look at me, look at me. Look at me.
I resisted for about an hour. When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I checked that the coast was clear and opened my top desk drawer. I pulled out the small mirror I kept next to my box of spare staples (for the very off chance that I might have two papers that needed stapling together).
I studied my reflection in the tiny rectangle and held my breath. It was like the moment when your birthday cake arrives at the end of dinner, the candles all aglow. I took a moment—“hurry, the wax is melting”—to think about my wish. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. Maybe I had been too critical before. Maybe I had been looking for a problem where a problem didn’t even exist.
I blew out the candles and opened my eyes.
There are some things you can’t unsee. Mustaches are one of them.
There was definitely a problem. For starters, my once-smooth upper lip was gone. What stared back at me in the mirror were long, dark hairs. Long, dark hairs sprouting from the corners of my mouth.
Since when had they arrived? And how could I have gone so long this blissfully oblivious?
The second problem was that now that I knew (thanks to my sister Sophie pointing it out one morning before breakfast), I couldn’t unsee my new-to-me mustache. I kept looking at it. It flapped in the breeze at me.
Why not wax/shave/thread it at the salon?
So just get it waxed, you might be thinking. Which is fair. A truly fair suggestion. Except (if it’s not already obvious) that I am the worst at personal grooming upkeep. It’s all I can do to keep on top of the dirt from accumulating in the corners of my big toenails (honestly, how do people do it). To have another grooming item on top of that to deal with… A woman can only handle so much.
I thought about my options. I could tweeze it (too time consuming). Or shave it (too risky—after all, those stories about shaved hair growing back thicker, coarser and darker had to come from someone). Or I could hope no one would notice it.
But how could they not notice it?
I twirled the corners of my mustache and contemplated.
The R.E.M. Spring to the rescue
At lunch time, I lamented to my work wife Lauren. Lauren was the one person who made enduring crazy co-workers and rogue mustaches worth it. Then I’d have something juicy to share when we went for a coffee break. She had her own share of stories, too. Those were even better because Lauren had a much higher tolerance for crazy. (If she was complaining, you knew it would be good).
In short, Lauren could be trusted with delicate matters such as these.
“Sophie told me something about myself I never noticed before,” I said tentatively. “I want to tell you, but I don’t want you to look at it.”
“OK. I’m not looking,” Lauren said, looking away.
“I have a mustache.”
“No, you don’t!” She looked back at me. “I don’t see anything.”
(Bless her heart.)
I explained my conundrum. How I couldn’t stop staring it and how the idea of having to pay to deal with removing it every week or so was giving me anxiety.
“I’m not saying you have one,” she said, “but if you did have a mustache, you should try the R.E.M. Spring. I use it, and it works great.”
It did such a great job, in fact, that she never went to the salon anymore.
A spring? To remove hair? I was intrigued.
How the R.E.M. Spring Works
When it arrived two days later, it felt weird and clumsy in my hands. It was made of stainless steel and had a finger hold on each end. I read the directions three times through and did a couple of practice runs, spinning the ends of the spring between my thumbs and index fingers. At first it felt like running a feather over my face. (This is how you can tell if you’re doing it wrong).
With a few more practice twists, the spring caught onto my mustache hairs, pulling them cleanly out, root and all. I held it up and looked at the little hairs caught within the tiny shrunken slinky. Seeing them trapped there was deeply satisfying.
The first few times I de-mustached using the spring, it made my eyes water and left my skin red and raised for a little while after. But since then, I hardly feel it anymore.
And despite having the least snappy name ever, the R.E.M. Spring has left me mustache-free for two years now. I never had to start tweezing, shaving or making regular salon appointments. (Still working on keeping the dirt out of my toenail corners though).
Try the R.E.M. Spring ($18.95)