The Curious Case of the Murderous Moustache

(To be read in a BBC announcer’s voice, circa 1950): At any given second, all around the world, people everywhere are bent over computer keyboards, feverishly typing phrases into search engines. What can so many people be searching for?

Everyone who types something into a search engine, does so in the hope of gaining some knowledge that will aid them in some way. An answer to an essay question, an opportunity to win a $2000 shopping spree on their local radio station quiz, a recipe for brussell sprouts that sounds edible, or maybe the evidence that will help them win an argument.

Here at the ACME laboratory for Mildly Advanced Scientific Research, we have studied this phenomenon for some years now, and one fact that emerged from our research has caused quite a stir in the scientific world. Our studies show that at any given second, at least one person somewhere in the world will be searching for information relating to moustaches (or, as Americans like to spell it, “mustaches”, with the emphasis on the first syllable).

Moustache - cut out if needed

Moustache – cut out if needed

Source: A Free Moustache! 

Phonetically, the American word “mustache” looks right, but I like the way that the spelling of “moustache”, originally French, derived from the Italian moustacio, and now incorporated into English, subliminally suggests “mouse.” After all, moustaches are not entirely different from mice – both are small and furry and tend to move if someone speaks.

A mouse

I am not a moustache

source: Wikimedia

According to the Oxford dictionary, a moustache is a strip of hair left to grow above the upper lip.  I can’t help but suspect that this description was written by an Oxford dictionary employee with a strong distaste for moustaches, given the phrasing. The description evokes  an out-of-date container of yogurt, forgotten in the back of the fridge, growing mould.

Ah yes, moustaches. They are, in themselves, quite absurd. That surely is the only reason they keep popping up on my blog with such frequency.

If you don’t believe that moustaches are absurd, think again. Have a look at some of the people who famously wore moustaches, and you’ll have to agree that surely they chose to wear a moustache to deliberately look eccentric, or they were too eccentric to care that they had a ridiculous growth of facial hair between their nose and lip.

Of course, one can’t think “moustaches” without thinking of eccentric Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. Naturally, there is a book of photos of Dali, called “Dali’s moustache.”

Dali   pic:



The Mona Lisa has also worn a moustache, courtesy of French artist Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp clearly perceived that a moustache signified the ridiculous, when he chose to draw one on the face of (a postcard image of) the Mona Lisa in one his “found object” artworks, known as L.H.O.O.Q.


Source: Wikipedia

Duchamp’s “readymades” always caused a stir, because he had the nerve to simply alter a ready-made object (like this postcard, or in another famous case, a latrine) and call the slightly altered version a work of art, but in this case there was added outrage because he made fun of a revered work of art. The letters allegedly stand for a phrase along the lines of “She has a hot arse.” Total disrespect – Mon Dieu! But I digress.

Back to moustaches. By way of a final example, we have this poor troubled fellow:

Behold, the inspiration for the Spicks and Specks gameshow segment, "Musician or Serial Killer?"

Behold, the inspiration for the Spicks and Specks TV gameshow segment, “Musician or Serial Killer?”

Source: The Rumpus

We’ve travelled the gamut of moustaches here from eccentrically dapper to criminally inclined. If the handlebar moustache sported by Nick Cave above is supposed to make a statement, it must be an homage to notorious Aussie criminal Chopper Read.

Yet for all their faults, and they are many, there is so far no evidence that a moustache has ever murdered anyone.

So I was intrigued by the search typed into Google recently, which transported someone across cyberspace to land on my blog page. The search term in question was, did Nietzsche die because of his moustache? 

Now before you spit tea into your own moustache in amusement at this question, stop a moment to ponder. Have you actually check out the moustache in question? If not, you can find pictures here or here. (I refuse to post yet another picture of the hideous creature (and it’s human) in my blog).

I think you’ll agree – that is no ordinary moustache. On close inspection (ugh!) it does seem possible that the moustache may be a separate, living entity. There is no doubt that a moustache of such volume and density could easily suffocate a man in his sleep. Or choke him to death. Or cause him to starve to death, by making ingestion of food impossible through that tangled wilderness of hair. Or, perhaps  its weight caused him to overbalance at an inopportune moment – while fishing at the edge of a high cliff face above the ocean on a gusty day,  for example, or perhaps while balancing precariously on a high wire in a circus tent – and topple to his death.

I have to admit that this version of events does not fit with the accounts of Nietzsche’s death on record, but we know that people’s memories are notoriously poor in recalling the details of an event, and also, that records are sometimes tampered with.

So in answer to the question about whether Nietzche’s moustache could have been the cause of his death, I offer a quote from Sherlock Holmes:

– when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. 

My own take on Holme’s theory is: if you have not managed to eliminate the impossible, and your word count is nearly 950, simply suggest that the impossible (i.e, being killed by your own moustache) is highly probable, and then leave your reader to draw their own conclusions.

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  1. My own conlusion is that bacterias such as e. Coli must have been breeded in such a moist confortable spot…


  2. BHAhahaa!! I am still laughing out loud at this: “it does seem possible that the moustache may be a separate, living entity”. Hahaa! At first, I was thinking about how Nietzche’s moustache resembled the likes of a small mammal who had taken up residence on his upper lip, on the other hand, maybe it was a whole living ecosystem on his upper lip? 😀

    This post really made me laugh! I find your writing is so brilliant!!


    • Awwww, shucks! Thanks! I’m kicking myself because i didn’t think of the ecosystem under his nose though.



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