We all got an “E” we grew up with. That one guy, or gal, who just grew up way faster than everyone else. That was on some next level Hulk shit while us mere mortals were Bruce Bannin’ it the whole way til’ high school. My main man, E. We shared the same birthday and all that. E came to our elementary school in 2nd grade. And already he was trouble. He was the cool –ass Hispanic kid who was at least an inch taller than everybody else. Even Mega Man book stealing (I’m still mad about that. Moms had to come to school and talk with our teacher about “lending” and “borrowing”. I was overly nice to these dudes, man), playground ruffian (we got in to an altercation when he punk’d my man Russell*. I got pushed to the floor after tussling for a few minutes, and that was the end of that quarrel. Russell’s sister told my moms. The volcano size hole in the knee of my jeans gave me away anyway), dance machine (next to me, dude was the best dancer in our class. We’d go toe-to-toe during lunch time), Timothy*, had to fall back at E’s undeniable level of coolness.
In 3rd grade, when we (i.e. me) were making up stories of sleeping with girls on the couch in my mama’s living room, E had girlies fawning over him like he was made out of Pringles or something. When I didn’t even know what alcohol was besides the stuff my Dominican barber rubbed on my face and neck after a haircut because he hated Black people (I mean, why else would anyone rub fire on you???!), E was drinking Sisco. While gang activity was something I only saw on episodes of Differen’t Strokes with Arnold dissecting the rights and wrongs with Robbie, E had beads around his neck, and was hanging with Neta’s from around the way. But, for whatever reason, E was my dude. I think it was also because I had a Genesis AND a Nintendo and a massive G.I. Joe collection NOT to be played with. E, myself, and my ace boon Ricky* all lived on the same block, so we’d all head back home together, play two-hand touch football and suicide and off the wall and manhunt and tag, in and out of each other’s buildings like some hood variation of duck duck goose. When E stopped getting parts in his Caesar, I told Boogie* to stop cutting the half-moon’s in my head, even though D made it a mandate as my older brother to stiffly remind me not to be a sucker (I kept the half-moon till like 6th grade).
But, you ain’t asking for all that. You’re here to read about some beard, mustache, and life /grooming stuff. Well, here’s where the magic really starts poppin’: 4th grade. We leave 3rd grade and enjoy our Summer’s in splendor. We’re out of school, taking family vacay’s, getting new clothes, picking out book-bags…all that. But, something was different. E had the juice before, no question. But alas, what was that thing growing on his upper lip? Was it dirt? Nah, couldn’t be. Maybe wax? Nope, he’d never stoop that low. Magic Marker? Couldn’t be, E hated school supplies. My good people, it was peach fuzz. But, not just some ole’ regular peach fuzz. We’re talking grown man, he may not get carded if we walked into Sutra Lounge, peach fuzz. Like, he could probably start working a 9 to 5 if he applied for work, peach fuzz. Sure, he got taller BUT, it was definitely the ‘stache. It was a game changer. Older cuties started hollering at him. Hanging around E was enough to get you at least a casual glance. I’m pretty sure I cursed a lot more because, since E was on with the mustache, EVEYBODY was on. Even us low-level nerds who were still afraid of showers and deodorant(I was nine , ya’ll. Cut me some slack).
I wouldn’t really start growing my mustache until 9th grade. By then, E and I were in different schools (we were in different programs in middle school. I tested in to the “gifted” program, E didn’t. He started hanging with some real knuckle heads. We were still homies. But then high school came, and the waters parted). I remember the pride I felt. I was brushing it every day, hoping those little baby hairs would sprout glorious seeds of hairy manliness. E grew up, has a family, works a great job, and is doing alright for himself now. His mustache ain’t got shit on mine though. Actual factuals.
*Names were changed because I don’t want folks reading this and being like “Yo, Joel that was dirty how you used my name like that”. This dude STILL got my Mega Man book.*