Whenever I “hide a smile in my mustache” (прячу улыбку в усы), a certain old friend from across the ocean (this magazine’s publisher) feels uneasy and nervous. Coupled with an enigmatic look, this expression adds an important element of mystery to the unreadable Russian soul.
I can’t help it – neither the look, nor the mustache. Ever since I отпустил усы (let my mustache grow), it has served multiple purposes: 1) it hides the aforementioned enigmatic smile (or chuckle – hence the other idiom, усмехнуться в усы); 2) it camouflages a scar on my upper lip (from the impact of my face with barbed wire during a nighttime soccer match); 3) it gives me the look of a cолидный мужчина (well-established man) and not a безусый юнец (hairless youth).
Mine is not the пышные (puffy) усы of the mustache-rich hussars, nor is it the ridiculous ycики (little mustache) of a twenty- something student. Instead, it is something in the golden middle (золотая середина), and enough a part of me that my wife insists I never shave it off (сбрить усы).
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567