Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel. (Wednesday morning later. Gentlemen (almost never) make passes at women who wear moustaches.)
You remember a time when you were younger and you were also married.
Your wife was twenty years older than you and because she worked as a cleaner at the local school she mostly smelt of Dettol which is a smell you could not stand and it was because of this you started smoking. You even encouraged her to smoke and soon enough her habit outstripped yours and she was smoking two packets of Gitanes every day.
As a result of this she became to be known by the children as Smokey Sue and they would walk behind her and whisper ‘Smokey Sue, Smokey Sue’ until she would turn around and shake her mop at them.
Sometimes she would come home crying, a cigarette cinched between her wrinkled nicotine stained lips, tendrils of smoke curling artistically above her head.
“Why do they do it?” she would say. “Why? My name is not Sue.”
Adolfie, your wife, had a moustache. She inherited the genes from her maternal grandmother, Jane Longshore, who in the 1940s was ‘The Bearded Lady’ in a travelling freak show.
It is partly because of this vaudevillian history that you fall in love Adolfie. When you were upset as a child your mother spun plates on two plastic sticks while doing a comic dance. She did this until you stopped crying. Sometimes this took a very long time.
You ask Adolfie if she can spin plates.
She can not.
The first night you and Adolfie spend together you undress yourselves in a darkened room with your favourite Sacha Distel LP on quietly in the background. You like all of Sacha Distel’s songs; Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, The Good Life, but especially Scoubidou.
You sing along.
Although you have your own version of the lyrics.
‘Scooby Scooby Doo. Where are you? We’ve got some work to do now.’
After the record has finished you find your love by touch alone, bury your face in her long fluid breasts and, in the hope that it will give you a firm long lasting erection, you beg that she reveal all that she knows of her vaudevillian history.
“Tell me more!” you cry. “Tell me more!”
She is completely up for it and this is how you know you are destined to be together.
“Longshore’s husband was ‘Mighty Joe Brown’ also known as ‘the Littlest Strongman on the Planet’!”
“At just four feet six inches tall he was able to lift a barrel containing a child on the palm of each hand!”
“He had a reputation as a dirty stinking brawler!”
“In 1946 he had challenged to and beat the European Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Bruce Woodcock!”
“Although as the fight took place outside a Peckham Pub there is no official record of the altercation!”
That night you are magnificent in bed.
You encourage your wife to ‘grow out’ her own moustache.
For Christmas you buy her an annotated history of the Queen’s Grenadiers. You underline the section which tells how moustaches were compulsory in the regiment between 1860 and 1916 until the regulation was finally relaxed.
“But what is the point of that?” she screams, already tired of your obsession with her facial hair. “Do you fantasise about me as a foot soldier?”
And in your head you see her on a battlefield, gun slung over her shoulder, combat fatigues hanging sexily from her hips. Her cheeks are sullied by mud, her hair is cut androgynously short, and under her nose are the snub hairs of a carefully groomed petite handlebar.
“They were heroic and mighty times,” you say.
As Adolfie matches and then folds your socks you imagine yourself back at the barracks, safely curled up in bed, a fire roaring in the grate, waiting peacefully for your wife’s return.
Neither of you will let it lie. By day and by night the battle rages, argument meeting counter-argument until at last during one particularly vicious argument in which she accuses you of many cruel intentions, all striking home with their veracity, you admit defeat.
“Be as you want to be,” you say, “I do not care any more. If you don’t want a moustache don’t have one.”
The next morning as you leave for work you pin a note to the fridge.
“I love you as you are. The battle of the ‘stache is over. Let your face be as naked as a cherub’s or that of a praying mantis.”
But the following day you are surprised to find all of your wife’s bleaches, tweezers and pluckers in the bathroom waste-bin and on her upper lip the first bloom of stubble.
“So what do you think?” she says rubbing a finger over it coquettishly. “Shall I go for a Hungarian or a Fu Manchu?”
You note this as yet another example of how you do not understand human nature.
Over the months that follow your wife’s moustache becomes luxuriant, thick and lustrous.
And, in a spirit of marital togetherness, you grow your own moustache too.
You like to look at your faces side by side in the mirror as you clean you teeth and seeing you together like that turns you on and you make love with the urgency of a teenager.
You are happier than you have ever been in your life.
In the early hours of the morning when you cannot sleep, these being the times when married couples most often share their deepest darkest truths, you talk about having children and you imagine having a daughter. She will also have a moustache; a Walrus, a Dali, a Chevron (it does not matter, the world will be her oyster and you will love her just the same!), and she will become a famous sailor, the kind of one who could appear in the papers for sailing around the world in a small tub, living off her own body fat and urine, but would instead be happy to become the first female captain of the rusty car and foot-passenger ferry that runs between the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Mull.
She will have four strapping children, two girls and two boys. All will have the most splendid moustaches.
But then one day a waiter in your favourite restaurant mistakes you and your wife for brothers.
You laugh it off, saying it must have been because you both happened to be wearing the same kind of high-collared shirt, both happened to put on the same style of glasses to peruse the small print of the menu, but then it happens again in a supermarket checkout queue and then for a third time on a coach tour to Lake Windermere.
You do not have a brother but now when you make love to your wife you see only your brother’s face.
“Give it to me,” you imagine him saying, “put your cock deep inside me brother. I want you to show me some hot brotherly love.”
This happens again and again until finally you can no longer bear to make love to your wife. She asks you what is the matter and you put her off with excuses of tiredness and a strange haunting depression which means you cannot sleep and are visited by waking dreams in which snakes devour demons and then throw them up again on brightly coloured car bonnets.
The truth is you do not want to touch your wife anymore.
The distance between you is as wide as a crevice on a mountainside that even the most agile of mountain goats could not leap across.
Finally, one day in despair and desperate for your tender and loving touch, Adolfie throws herself naked at you. She rubs her moustache from your feet to your forehead without missing any bits in between and all the while she incants the most wildly erotic things she is going to do to you. These involve carrots, a cheese grater, and a trip to the local park with her fixed discreetly but erotically to your body.
You cannot stand it anymore, to do that with your very own brother!
You tell her the truth.
“Oh, Oh, out damn spot,” she says beating her chest while sobbing and the next day the moustache is gone.
But without it things are not the same anymore.
You miss the moustache, long achingly for it, and when you look at your wife’s face you see only an omission. You might as well be gazing into a black hole.
You come to an understanding that many of your type have previously come to in relation to many other sundry matters.
You cannot live with the moustache. You cannot live without it.
You start to drink too much, every night gorging yourself on bottle after bottle of cheap wine, and because you are hungover the next morning you start to make mistakes at work. You measure things wrongly or write down the wrong measurements because your eyes are seeing double and your hands are shaking.
You sell staircases and the correct measurements are very important.
After the third of your customers falls down one of your staircases and breaks both his legs your boss calls you into his office and yells at you. He says he is letting you go and that you will never work in staircases again.
That night you go out and get drunk and in a fit of remorse you go to the hospital where the man with the broken legs is.
It is the early hours of the morning and he is sleeping. And this is the thing. Right there below his nose is what you have been missing during the previous long and lonely months.
A moustache both luxurious and beckoning.
“Oh baby,” you say. “How I have missed you.”
You don’t remember taking off your clothes or getting into bed with him but this is how you are found by one of the nurses the following morning.
The police are called and you are arrested and when the case goes to court, because of the bizarre nature of the crime, your face appears on the front page of the local paper.
This is the final straw for your wife. You have been unfaithful to her and with another man!, for what else were you doing naked and in his bed?
“This is why you married me?” she screams. “You are a moustache lover and not a person lover!”
She throws you out of the house and says she wants a divorce.
You have lost everything.
You take on one dead-end job after another.
You think back to the time when both you and your wife had moustaches and were happy.
You know those times will not come again.
It is a typical tale for many of your kind.
Passion turning to hatred, marriage to divorce, hope to despair, sobriety to inebriation, employment to unemployment. Moustaches.