At 11:45 am on November 8, MU’s cafeteria looks like it does on any other Friday afternoon — completely normal. Students pile food on their plates and find a seat next to a favorite friend or professor. But today is not a normal day. Once the clock’s hands point to noon, the mood in the room suddenly changes.
Several young men, their mustaches quivering with excitement, begin arranging chairs and cramming tables together. The result is one long community table set against the cafeteria’s back wall. It’s the table for the men of Cinco de Mustache.
Kevin Perry, a freshman studying intercultural studies, is dressed as a lumberjack. He’s wearing a blue plaid shirt, suspenders and a wool cap. His mustache — full-bodied, blonde and beautiful — sits proudly on his youthful face.
“I love the manliness aspect of Cinco de Mustache,” says Perry. “I love growing out facial hair and doing fun stuff with it.”
Ray Lubeck, MU’s Bible and Theology professor, sits in the middle of the Cinco Table. His mustache would make Hulk Hogan beam with pride. A young man further down the table suddenly stands up.
“Gentlemen!” he shouts. He’s greeted with roars from his listeners. “We have, today, Ray Lubeck and his glorious ’stache!” The table erupts in cheers.
“Speech!” the men scream. “Speech!”
Lubeck stands up. “Beardly beloved…” he begins. His address is short and bewildering, but the Cinco Men love it. They howl and clap with delight.
Then the singing begins.
Every man at the table stands. As they clutch their mugs of milk, their voices boom across the cafeteria: “Cinco de Mustache! The men who are hip — they grow hair on their lip! They don’t own a razor — they don’t give a rip! It grows, and grows and grows! So let your mustache show!”
After this display of absurdity, the men sit and continue to eat their lunches. Occasionally, one of them will yell something unintelligible, and the entire group will cheer in agreement. One young man raises his glass and hollers, “I don’t know what we’re yelling about!”
“YEAH!” everyone shouts back.
Two wide-eyed previewers, Hayden Bearden and Pierce Froke, sit at the end of the table. Some kind soul has given Froke a purple paper mustache to wear. He sticks it below his nose in between bites of chicken. Bearden and Froke, who both attend Oregon City High School, have been impressed with MU so far, not to mention its ludicrous holiday.
“Cinco de Mustache is fun,” says Froke. “And everyone here is really nice. I feel like I’m already home.”
That’s exactly the kind of feeling Jon Gonsalves, the founder and creator of Cinco de Mustache, wants people to have. Gonsalves is wearing a dark, fuzzy caterpillar of a mustache. As he saunters around the cafeteria in a red woolen poncho, he proudly views the medley of facial hair styles before him.
“Cinco is a great way to connect with people and carry out tradition here at Multnomah,” he says.
Caleb Willis, a senior studying psychology, agrees that the event builds camaraderie. “I love that we can celebrate something ridiculous like this,” he says. Willis sports a thin, carefully groomed specimen reminiscent of the stereotypical Frenchman’s stubble.
Many might doubt the magic of the mustache. What’s its appeal? Why is it so beloved?
Willis is quick to answer: “A beard is a beard…is a beard. But a mustache looks different on every face.”
The excitement eventually dies down in the cafeteria. The men, drunk with milk and good cheer, stumble away from the Cinco Table. The celebration is over. But Cinco lives on in their hearts.
Tags: beards, Caleb Willis, campus life, cinco, cinco de mustache, cinco de mustache 2013, college life, Jon Gonsalves, Kevin Perry, Multnomah, multnomah events, Multnomah seminary, Multnomah University, mustache, Portland, portland events, portland oregon, Ray Lubeck, student events, student life