Inspiration from a Woman’s Upper Lip
Jamaica Station, Queens, New York, where the JFK Airport Link ends and my search for a big American breakfast began.
The place is a ghetto and it soon became apparent that my food options were limited. The only breakfast-place I could find was a scratched-up, slapped-around corner joint called Crown Fried Chicken. As I stared at it, mostly in disgust, I heard the sound of gang frenzy. One kid ran after another, threatening pain with every stride. The fried chicken place would be my refuge.
I walked up to the counter a little nervous. Without the slightest perusal of the menu, I picked out a breakfast set. The friendly woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted beef bacon or turkey bacon. I chose turkey and thought, classy. I was told to sit down so I turned around and surveyed the establishment.
Apparently, the angle you get when you enter the restaurant is its good side. I quickly chose a seat in the corner where I could people-watch and not be violently stabbed in the back of the head.
There were about six people in the place. Three of them were obviously on crack. They were dirty, twitchy, and covered in lesions. One of them scanned the restaurant constantly – presumably looking for more crack. The three people that weren’t obviously on crack, were probably on crack. In fact, if they were the only ones in the restaurant I would have likely filed them under obviously on crack, but Crown Fried Chicken had me reevaluating my whole crackhead scale system.
The sound of the front door opening spun my head towards it with my body ready to duck a rain of bullets. A heavy woman with a stained tee shirt walked in. I looked her over for signs of drug addiction and that’s when I saw it.
I couldn’t believe it. I mean I’ve seen lady-staches before, but this one was by far the most glorious. It was certainly better than anything I could grow.
I froze, afraid to blink in case it disappeared. It made me feel excited, and gross, and apart of something special. It wasn’t just above the lip – it stretched down to the corners of her mouth like a thick, black, frayed rope; the type of rope that could hold a ship in place on a storm-beaten sea. If the people from UNESCO knew about this mustache the lady’s upper lip would immediately be declared a World Heritage Site.
The worker at the counter broke my hypnotic gaze. My food was ready. I went up to retrieve it, and at the same time the mustache queen approached to order. As I stepped up beside her I felt a bit intimidated.
This was a lady that didn’t give a damn – not one little tiny sliver of a damn. Unless she had never seen her reflection, or perhaps was too stupid to realize what reflections were, she knew she had a mustache, nay – a monster-stache, and yet she didn’t bother to shave, wax, or Nair it. As I took my food, I glanced up at the long bristly hairs and saw the thing up-close for the first time. She ordered the same meal I had ordered, and I watched as the whiskers flapped with every word spoken. I started to respect this lady, envying her boldness.
There are so many people in the world that will spend an hour getting ready to go out, worrying about how to do their hair, and whether this matches that. Mustache Lady didn’t waste her precious time with that shit. So what if she confused children, and frightened deliverymen? Perhaps instead of shaving, she used that time to make the world a better place. If only people could look past those thick swooping hairs, they would see a caring smile.
By the time I got back to my table, I had a new outlook on life. No longer would I care about what other people thought of me. Judging eyes would be ignored or pitied. My new mantra: Embrace the ‘stache.
I reevaluated my life as I picked at my horrible breakfast: toasted pancakes, overcooked eggs, and turkey bacon that was so greasy it made regular bacon seem like the healthy option. When I was done I headed out the door, pausing to take one last glance at the inspirational patch of hairs.
“These eggs are too hard!” the lady practically yelled as she threw down her fork.
You tell them, I thought, you tell them.