I came across this post on A Spot of Literature which includes an excerpt from French writer Guy de Maupassant. It was so good that I had to share.
A wife writes to her friend about her husband shaving off his mustache.
CHATEAU DE SOLLES,
July 30, 1883.
…You cannot imagine, my dear Lucy, how it changes him [my husband]! I no longer recognize him-by day or at night. If he did not let it grow again I think I should no longer love him; he looks so horrid like this.
In fact, a man without a moustache is no longer a man. I do not care much for a beard; it almost always makes a man look untidy. But a moustache, oh, a moustache is indispensable to a manly face. No, you would never believe how these little hair bristles on the upper lip are a relief to the eye and good in other ways. I have thought over the matter a great deal but hardly dare to write my thoughts. Words look so different on paper and the subject is so difficult, so delicate, so dangerous that it requires infinite skill to tackle it.
Well, when my husband appeared, shaven, I understood at once that I never could fall in love with a strolling actor nor a preacher, even if it were Father Didon, the most charming of all! Later when I was alone with him (my husband) it was worse still. Oh, my dear Lucy, never let yourself be kissed by a man without a moustache; their kisses have no flavor, none whatever! They no longer have the charm, the mellowness and the snap — yes, the snap — of a real kiss. The moustache is the spice.
Imagine placing to your lips a piece of dry — or moist — parchment. That is the kiss of the man without a moustache. It is not worth while.
Whence comes this charm of the moustache, will you tell me? Do I know myself? It tickles your face, you feel it approaching your mouth and it sends a little shiver through you down to the tips of your toes.
And on your neck! Have you ever felt a moustache on your neck? It intoxicates you, makes you feel creepy, goes to the tips of your fingers. You wriggle, shake your shoulders, toss back your head. You wish to get away and at the same time to remain there; it is delightful, but irritating. But how good it is!
A lip without a moustache is like a body without clothing; and one must wear clothes, very few, if you like, but still some clothing…
From a very different point of view the moustache is essential. It gives character to the face. It makes a man look gentle, tender, violent, a monster, a rake, enterprising! The hairy man, who does not shave off his whiskers, never has a refined look, for his features are concealed; and the shape of the jaw and the chin betrays a great deal to those who understand.
The man with a moustache retains his own peculiar expression and his refinement at the same time…
And how many different varieties of moustaches there are! Sometimes they are twisted, curled, coquettish. Those seem to be chiefly devoted to women.
Sometimes they are pointed, sharp as needles, and threatening. That kind prefers wine, horses and war.
Sometimes they are enormous, overhanging, frightful. These big ones generally conceal a fine disposition, a kindliness that borders on weakness and a gentleness that savors of timidity.
But what I adore above all in the moustache is that it is French, altogether French. It came from our ancestors, the Gauls, and has remained the insignia of our national character.
It is boastful, gallant and brave. It sips wine gracefully and knows how to laugh with refinement, while the broad-bearded jaws are clumsy in everything they do…
Well, good-by, dear Lucy. I send you a hearty kiss. Long live the moustache!
Taken from Volume II of ‘The Entire Original Maupassant Stories’
Translated from the French by Albert M. C. McMaster