Friday, December 24, 2010

"Missed by a Hair"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride: It’s the story of my life. But the hairiest part of the story is that I am the only bridesmaid I know with a mustache.

That is why I was not surprised to find out that I recently finished second in the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Contest.

This was the third time I have finished second in a national competition. The first was in 1990, when I was runner-up in the Curly Howard Sound-Alike Contest. Was I thrilled? Soitenly! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! The second was in 1998, when I was second in the pasta sauce division of the Newman’s Own & Good Housekeeping Recipe Contest for a dish I called Zezima’s Zesty Ziti Zinger. Paul Newman himself tried it and didn’t have to be hospitalized. That he is currently deceased is merely a coincidence.

But the mustache contest was special because I not only was up against some stiff-upper-lipped competition, but because I lost by -- you guessed it -- a whisker.

The third annual Goulet Award competition -- sponsored by the American Mustache Institute (“Defending the rights of the Mustached American community since 1965”) and named for the late mustachioed singer -- was the largest yet.

According to the AMI website,, there were more than 300 entrants this year. In addition to yours truly, the 19 finalists included such notables as Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano, TV personality Pat O’Brien, filmmaker Morgan Sperlock, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten.

I also was up against two inanimate objects: Paydirt Pete, a cartoon mascot, and Carstache, a mustache for cars.

Of the more than half-million online ballots cast, I got about 85,000 votes. For this unbelievable outpouring of support, I must thank my vast network of People With Too Much Time On Their Hands. My mother alone probably accounted for half of my total. I apologize to anyone who, as a result of constant computer clicking, has come down with RSI, which stands, of course, for Repetitive ’Stache Injury.

My supporters also can take pride in the fact that the Goulet contest raised money for Movember (, an international charity that not only helps fund cancer research but encourages men to grow mustaches.

“Your performance was clearly admirable and your chevron mustache is very impressive,” Dr. Aaron Perlut, chairman of AMI and the self-described “most ruggedly handsome man in America,” told me by phone. “It was nice to see that your supporters came out in droves. You have quite a following.”

But not as large a following as the winner, Brian Sheets, a firefighter from Osceola County, Fla., who got about 120,000 votes. He was honored at ’Stache Bash 2010, which was held under the world’s largest mustache, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, where he received the coveted Goulet Award and a $3 crown.

“I’m humbled,” Sheets told me when I called to congratulate him. “When my students at the Central Florida Fire Academy found out about the contest, they nominated me. Then friends and family started voting. It spread like wildfire.”

It was the only fire that Sheets, who sports a Fu Manchu, didn’t want to put out.

“I’ve always talked about the power of the mustache,” said Sheets, 39, adding that he will never shave his. “I burned it once, but I just trimmed the singed parts. I’d rather have my heart burned out of my chest than shave my mustache.”

I must admit that Sheets is a very brave and worthy winner, which is why, even though he is from Florida, I won’t demand a recount.

All I can do is start preparing for next year’s contest and hope I’m not a bridesmaid again. Maybe I’ll join the fire department and grow a Fu Manchu.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Christmas Letter 2010"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have once again decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the childriarchs; and Katie’s husband, Dave, the son-in-lawiarch. Happy reading!

Dear friend(s):

It sure has been an exciting 2010 for the Zezimas! The highlight of the year was the engagement of Lauren to a wonderful young man named Guillaume. Everyone in the family is thrilled for the happy couple, who will be married next year. In fact, there will be not one but two weddings, the first in France (where Guillaume is from) and the second in the United States (where Lauren is from). Is Jerry saving his euros? Oui!

In related developments, Sue and Jerry hosted Lauren’s bridal shower, for which they rented a tent that was never used, and Jerry opened a father-of-the-bridal registry at Home Depot. (Hint: He needs screwdrivers. Don’t worry about the orange juice. Just buy him vodka.)

Katie turned 30. She and Dave celebrated by going to Costa Rica, where Katie hurt her shoulder zip-lining and has needed physical therapy. It's tough getting old.

Sue and Jerry went to Cape Cod. They had a great time. And nobody got hurt.

In fact, Sue and Jerry had many excellent adventures in 2010. Sue won two tickets to a taping of “Late Show With David Letterman” in New York City. They didn’t meet Dave, or even announcer Alan Kalter of Stamford, but they did have lunch at the Hello Deli and met famous owner Rupert Jee, who made Jerry “The Letterman,” a heart-healthy hoagie inspired by Dave’s past cardiac troubles. It was delicious.

Sue and Jerry went to Upton, N.Y., to visit Brookhaven National Laboratory, home of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, where the origin of the universe is studied, and got a tour from Guillaume, an accelerator physicist at the lab. Jerry, who is not exactly a rocket scientist, didn’t blow anything up.

Speaking of adventures, Sue and Jerry attempted to clean the garage in anticipation of a home refinancing appraisal. They got rid of a lot of junk but not all of it, so they still can’t fit a car in there.

And speaking of cars, Jerry took his to be serviced and got a massage while he waited. Now he wants to have the oil changed every week. He also was a Target Boy for the Great Throwdini, the world-famous knife thrower, and made a point of living to tell about it.

If that weren’t a close enough shave, Jerry was a finalist in the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Contest. In a field of about 300, he finished second, losing by a whisker.

On a sad note, Lizzie, the family dog, who once beat Jerry in a blackjack tournament, passed away, a month shy of her 15th birthday. She was the sweetest creature God ever made and will always be missed.

The highest achievement of the year was when Jerry took the first solo flight of his life. He traveled to Dayton, Ohio, to be a speaker at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, where he signed copies of his book, “Leave It to Boomer.”

Yes, Jerry actually became a published author in 2010, and his book, he is proud to say, is a crime against literature. He even won it in a raffle at a dinner in Darien, Conn. Someday he might read it.

Well, that’s the news from here. Merry Christmas with love and confusion from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima