Men shall be clean-shaven daily (with the exception of a neatly trimmed mustache). You will NOT grow a mustache while employed at Alta's Rustler Lodge.
–Employee Guidelines, Rustler Lodge, Alta, Utah
Mid-summer. Ski season training begins. Since you must have a mustache firmly planted before reporting for duty in November, you vigorously prepare by not shaving your upper lip. Let the games begin.
Growth is imperceptible. Hair is the literal size and texture of peach fuzz. Keep the secret close. The key is to under promise, over deliver, and avoid places where children congregate.
Dark stragglers emerge from the thin blonde groundcover. Is this is the start of Eckersley greatness or a downward spiral into twitchy Reno gambler? Dreams are haunted by aggressive ski patrollers.
Someone wonders aloud if you haven't been showering. It won't be the last time.
The caterpillar mutates and starts to curl around the corners of the mouth. Count to 10 and resist the urge to trim. One must water and nurture seedlings, not chop them off at the first sign of porn-stachiness.
Hide in the garage to wax skis, check reflection of your lip tickler in the hot iron. Daydream of glorious snot-cicles.
Employee orientation day at the Rustler. You notice that just about every other guy has a baby mustache. You stare at theirs, they stare at yours. Nobody mentions it. Except the women. They are a little grossed out.
First day of the ski season. Alta opens to fresh snow and blue skies. The dining hall is full of happy, wealthy families on vacation. It's like Dirty Dancing for skiers. Get out there and take those orders. Nobody puts baby mustache in a corner.
One of your lip pubes falls into the tomato bisque of the nice lady staying in Room 202. As far as she knows, it never happened.
A new super power reveals itself when the Peruvian bartender who was always such a dick suddenly spots you 10 people deep at après. He slings you a beer and says you can settle the tab later.
During the breakfast shift, an older gentleman wearing a white turtleneck and bibs calls you "Sir." Reward him with extra bacon.
It's a powder day on Wildcat and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the goggles of the cute skier sitting next to you. An awkward pause ensues as you realize you have icy stalactites sprouting wildly from your lip hamster. Cute skier takes off without giving you her phone number.
Skis, boots, poles; gloves, goggles, hat; handkerchief, and spare napkins, just in case.
What the hell happened last night? Memory is hazy. String clues together based on the unpleasant aroma of your hairy lip turd. Smells like whiskey, way too many cigarettes out behind the dorm, Nancy's long johns, and 3 a.m. nachos.
An aggressive ski patroller pulls you over for skiing too fast. He sees your cookie duster and quickly apologizes.
Gaper Day arrives and all the mustaches have come out to play. There's PBR and onsies and everyone celebrates each other for their nonconformist ways. Next year, you decide, you'll get really crazy by having no mustache at all.
Your facial hair has evolved from a stately sculpture into shorn and wirey split ends. And the spring's heat is too much for this insulation. This is the end of the mustache's small, but important, life. Time to shave. Wear extra sunscreen on your upper lip for at least 10 days.
The cute skier you met on the lift in the middle of winter tracks you down in the dining hall, and she slips her phone number into your apron pocket.
PHOTOS: Adam Clark
This story originally published in the February 2017 issue of POWDER (45.4). Get the stories while everyone’s talking about them. Subscribe here.