The brave men who put dignity aside and grow a moustache during the month of November reside in a zone somewhere between saint and pariah.
We are looked upon with antipathy by most who we subject to our moustaches, regardless of the charitable cause that prompted the growth.
Almost exclusively our threadbare, fuzzy, and altogether unsettling growths are shy, so very shy, of the noble images we imagined when setting out on a journey to raise awareness for prostate cancer more than two weeks ago.
Movember — the organizing body behind this month of cancer awareness — warns you, but does not prepare you, for the glances, the snickers and the taunting asides that come from wearing a novice 'stache. The men and women of Yahoo! Canada's Movember team are no different that way from the thousands of other who set out on the journey half-a-month ago.
Among us are the proud, dark and full; the fuzzy peaches; the somewhat-greasy. We are the meek, the modest and manly. We joined the cause on a lark, with the best of intentions and with the strongest of wills.
"The first day I had to shave and expose myself, I literally didn't want to come out of the bathroom," said Movember participant Andrew McKay.
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"It hasn't really gotten any better. I'd like to say my friends and family are supportive, but my mother-in-law told me 'shave that thing, you look ridiculous,' and every once in a while my wife laughs at me again, as if to remind me how silly I look in case I haven't looked in a mirror."
For many of us, this is our first moustache. Personally, I have been a clean-faced man and I have been a bearded man. My fiancée seems to adore me either way. But the moustache, we have learned, does not cut muster in her eyes.
On a daily basis she welcomes me with a bright smile. But as the month grows older and my facial hair grows longer, those smiles seem to fade quicker. Her eyes roll more readily with each passing day. Her jokes seem to come less frequently in good humour.
Discussing the topic with other Movember participants, I've learned that my significant other is not alone in this response. Many loved ones seem to understand the cause, and appreciate the good intentions, but wish the moustaches could reside elsewhere.
One Mo Bro, as we are called, was forced to meet his girlfriend's family for the first time while wearing only a few days of growth above his lip. They sat down to dinner, with his moustache on everyone's mind.
"They were cool about it, but my girlfriend's sister couldn't resist bringing it up. I almost ran over to Shoppers for a razor right then and there," Allan Shifman said, recalling the event.
But those of us who can grow even shallow 'staches are the envy of our Mo Sista, Michelle Kim. She joined the cause to support her father's moustache and wears a plastic replica hanging from her glasses.
"Since I can't grow my own handlebar, to help raise awareness, I am wearing this mustache every day this November until the end of the month — this includes daytime business hours, meetings with my boss, colleagues, etc.," she said.
"Honestly at first I felt like a fraud since I couldn't grow in my own Mo, so I felt like I had to do something special in order to compete with the boys and actually collect donations.
"Also when else can I wear these funky glasses and mustache to serious meetings with my boss?"
Derek Chezzi has also found support for his moustache in the most unlikely of places. He recalled sharing a moment of unity with another Movember participant at his daughter's ballet school. His daughter, four-year-old Olivia, remains on the fence about the new look.
"Are you going to have it forever?" she innocently asked recently, and was told he would not have the moustache forever.
"Oh, that's OK," she responded. "Are you going to have it for my birthday?" She was told it would be gone by then.
"Good. I wouldn't want people laughing at you," she confessed.
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Movember, of course, is not just about the laughter. Last year, over 854,000 people participated around the world, raising more than $125 million. That money goes toward prostate cancer and men's mental health initiatives.
Cavin Bennett joined Yahoo's Movember team because of a personal connection to the cause. His wife's grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer over 20 years ago.
"He never let it slow him down, though. He was an electrician by trade that took night courses for several years to become an electrical engineer, as he was mechanically minded," Bennett said.
"One thing that was very close to his heart was his family. He always loved hosting family gatherings, the bigger the better. He was fortunate enough to have met two of his great-grandchildren.
"He lived with that cancer for many years, but you never would have known it, as I didn't find out until his passing. That's my motivation for growing a moustache and Movember."
As Mo Bros and Sistas we laugh and joke about the dismal shape of our moustaches, and it is right to do so (because so many are so terrible). But we also remember there is a reason we grow, and we hope sacrificing our faces for one month will, at the very least, prompt a conversation.
With just weeks left before the moustaches are shaved and Movember comes to an end, some of us find other reasons to grow.
While discussing my moustache recently, my fiancée absentmindedly referred to it as "Hollywood sexy." Realizing what she said, she clamped both hands over her mouth and refused address the comment further. But I know what she means.
It means she is going to miss this thing come December.