Stalin’s Mustache

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One morning Aloisius Weinberg woke up and discovered a mustache on the end of his penis. It was thick and black but neatly groomed, and it lay just below the very tip, as if the orifice of his urethra were a single nostril. A mustache on a penis being something that Weinberg, despite a full and exciting life, had never so much as imagined, let alone seen, he did not know what to do. For thirty minutes or more he stood mesmerized by it, naked before a full-length mirror. It was undeniably fascinating; he felt drawn to it. But there was also, to his eye, something threatening about the little black rectangle, and he did not want to touch it. Omitting, therefore, his usual Sunday morning bath, he slipped on a pair of pants and went out to buy some bialys.
   Standing in line at Kossar’s he made the acquaintance of a beautiful young Vassar girl who had just finished her creative writing thesis on Henry Miller and pre-post-feminist pornography. She had curly dark hair and breasts like wineskins. Though they had never met before, and though Weinberg had not spoken a word nor made any gesture more than a small epileptic bobble that might have been mistaken for a nod, the girl greeted him effusively, asked him how he was, and immediately put two hands on his ass. “Fine, thank you,” Weinberg said. Before he knew it they were on the floor of the Vassar girl’s dead grandmother’s rent-controlled apartment, Weinberg with three black socks in his mouth, making love like animals. They spent all afternoon in an orgy of groping, fondling, fucking, and whitefish, and she never once mentioned her schoolwork. It was too good to be true. Finally at seven o’clock, when Weinberg’s oily face had begun to itch, and after the girl’s dead grandmother’s fourteen cats had been mewling for their dinner for six hours, the girl took the black socks out of Weinberg’s mouth, wiped the chopped onions off his underpants, and showed him the door. “That was fantastic,” she said. “Don’t call me.”
   Only when he had returned home and after he had poured himself a cup of coffee and lit three cigarettes did Weinberg remember the mustache. Had it been a hallucination? Was it still there? If so, why had the Vassar girl said nothing about it? Had she seen a penis mustache before? “Well,” Weinberg said to himself, “if anyone has ever seen a penis mustache, it’s bound to be a Vassar girl.” Chuckling over this pithy truth, Weinberg dismissed his early-morning vision and went into the kitchen to begin washing a large pile of dirty dishes. For several hours he splashed happily while listening to a loop tape of Bob Dylan

They violated each other and a soft pretzel with mustard.

singing “Hurricane,” but at last, while attacking burnt-on tsimmes with a spackle knife, he was assailed by doubt. He did not take hallucinogens or yoga and had never had visions before. Besides, it had seemed so real. Meditatively, Weinberg pulled out the waistband of his aquamarine sweatpants and lifted his unit in his left hand — he gasped, letting fall from his lips two lit cigarettes and thereby lighting his tsimmes pan on fire. The mustache was still there.
   For the first week he simply ignored it. His habits of bathing and personal hygiene were such as to allow him a considerable degree of ignorance concerning his private areas, and he took full advantage of this. He went about his usual business with as unconcerned an air as he was able to counterfeit, and he was aided in this by a series of unlikely sexual conquests. On Monday night a Cuban waitress with a backside that could knock over a telephone booth took him to an apartment somewhere in the Bronx, tied him to a water heater and made love to him until he passed out; he woke up in an idling taxicab on Riverside Drive. On Tuesday afternoon he had hardly worked up the nerve to bid the green-eyed girl in the bakery “good day” before they were in the storeroom, naked and covered with flour. She was long, slender and working her way through Sarah Lawrence. On Wednesday evening he went to a bar in Midtown and was picked up by a high-powered business supplies saleswoman who took him to a suite at the Royalton and physically threw him into the bathtub. On Thursday morning as he stumbled out of the Royalton he bumped into a muscular lady bike messenger who pedaled him to a high school playing field on Staten Island, where they made love in the dirt like Adam and Eve. On the Staten Island ferry on Thursday afternoon, a short Hunter College anthropology student with a broad face and a long black braid down her back led him by the hand into a bathroom stall, where they violated each other and a soft pretzel with mustard. While walking home he picked up a ringing pay phone, which, it turned out, had been called by accident by a hip young photographer from Oneonta who lived in a studio in Long Island City. Before he knew it it was Friday afternoon and he was loping bowlegged down Jackson Avenue, squinting into the sun and trying to find the subway. Because he was very tired and had not been home in two days, he resolved not to leave his apartment at least until Saturday morning; that evening, he was made love to by a sexy Shanghainese delivery girl. Uncertain what to tip in this situation, he handed her ten dollars, and she gave him in return a free order of crunchy fried wontons that she evidently kept about her person for just such an occasion.
   So far, so good. Weinberg was not a reflective sort, and while most men, even those, like Weinberg, whose college degrees read “Film and Video,” would have hazarded a guess by now at some connection between the mysterious black penis mustache and the subsequent wave of sexual serendipity, Weinberg simply chalked it all up to a long-overdue karmic payback for the sincerity of his devilish good looks. In fact, by the time he fell asleep Friday night, he had convinced himself that it was not the past few days that were anomalous, but the entirety of his previous experience. The world was finally working the way it was supposed to. By the time he woke up Saturday morning, after dreaming about a soccer stadium full of naked women weeping and pleading for their lives, Aloisius Weinberg was thoroughly convinced that not a single one of the previous week’s sexual adventures had befallen him — he had, rather, in some subtle and unknown but indubitable way engineered them all himself; they were all, therefore, not luck, but just desserts, and he could make them continue. He resolved that not another day would pass in his life without a minimum of three random sexual conquests. And so, after taking a shower — in the course of which he shampooed and conditioned his new nether mustache, and only masturbated a little — and dressing himself in pink flip-flops and a terry-cloth bathrobe, Weinberg exited his tiny Grand street apartment and rang for the elevator. The doors opened to reveal the Lifshitz girls, twin sister dental hygienists who had never before seemed likely to give him the time of day. This morning they were all smiles. “Isn’t your name Aloisius?” said one girl. “Aloisius rhymes with delicious!” said the other. Then both girls giggled, and Aloisius remarked to himself that three a day might be setting the bar too low. Five minutes later the twin Lifshitz girls stumbled out into the lobby, dazedly straightening their short-shorts and tube tops, and Aloisius Weinberg strode regally behind them, ostentatiously retying his bathrobe and smoothing down his eyebrows.
   The following weeks continued apace, and each day found Weinberg’s johnson better traveled, but as time passed Weinberg began to notice three disturbing trends. The first was either the deterioration of his sexual morality, or the gradual abandonment of the pretense that he had any in the first place. For example, on Saturday morning, after bopping the two Lifshitz girls and then detouring to the basement for a brief but satisfying round of old-fashioned Cape-Cod-style three-hole pennywhistle with a zaftig hasidic hausfrau, Weinberg found himself and his white bathrobe moseying across town toward Stuyvesant High School. He spent a pleasant stroll considering whether he wanted a kasha knish for lunch or a sweet potato, and then, before he knew it, he was sticking it in the knish of a seventeen-year-old Chinese-American club girl in the bushes of Robert F. Wagner Park. He talked spontaneously about electronic music he had never heard of and drugs he had never taken, and the whole thing took less than twenty-five minutes. And it only got

He walked into a Jungian clinic, seduced six psychotherapists and left without paying the bill.

worse: on Saturday he asked this Stuyvesant girl if she was eighteen, and let her lie; on Tuesday he told the three Dalton girls that they were eighteen and dared them to disagree; and by Friday at the roller rink he just let it pass. Nor was age-of-consent the only shattered taboo: he began sleeping with mothers while their babies cried, wives with their husbands on speakerphone, and school teachers on lunch breaks in playgrounds. One afternoon he walked into a Jungian clinic and seduced six female psychotherapists and then left without paying the bill. By the second weekend it took all his little will power and a great deal of alcohol to keep himself in check at his niece’s bat mitzvah. A corollary to this disturbing trend was that he did not even find it disturbing except after the fact and in principle; he was more concerned by his own lack of concern than anything else. It seemed out of character. The second disturbing trend Weinberg noticed was also amply evidenced at the bat mitzvah: his gluttony was extending itself to realms beyond the sexual. That he drank a great deal was nothing new — nor, for Weinberg, was it unusual to wake up in the middle of the night to have a cigarette — but culinarily, at least, he had always favored quality over quantity. But now he found himself consuming sixty-five broccoli quiches, half a dozen whole whitefish and three buffet dinners, then cursing out the manager of the Massapequa Marriott for stocking only six kinds of ice cream. When the manager offered him tofutti, Weinberg threatened him with a bottle of Galliano and had to be wrestled down by his Uncle Itchy, who subsequently broke his dental plate and began to cry.
   Even so, none of this would have really bothered him if not for the third disturbing trend, which, unbeknownst to Weinberg, who refused to read authors unless they had demonstrably hairier chests than he did — which meant, in effect, that he could not be counted on to discuss any authors at all except Norman Mailer and one or two Sicilian pornographers — had been predicted in the work of the eminent economist Thomas R. Malthus. (Malthus claimed that population grew geometrically while the means of subsistence improved only arithmetically, and that therefore the odds of finding something decent to eat decline towards zero the further you drive into Connecticut.) Every day brought Weinberg more conquests than the last, but the growth of his tally sheet was dwarfed by the increase of his ambition. His eyes became keener and more predatory, his lust more brutal and wide-ranging, until finally the mere sight of any woman, regardless of her attractiveness, availability or physical proximity, became intolerable to him if he could not penetrate her immediately. He could not watch movies or television; he could not stroll down Fifth Avenue; he could not attend high school field-hockey games. Finally, he could hardly leave his apartment at all, because it was simply physically impossible to have sex with every woman he saw, even taking into account his rubbery skin and phenomenal ejaculatio praecox. For a few days he made do by hampering his vision with dark glasses and a floppy hat, but quickly the problem reasserted itself mentally: it got so that Weinberg could make love to thirty-five women a day and barely notice it — let alone feel grateful, or remark on the sheer physical prodigy of his feat — because he was so tormented by the thought of the hundreds of millions of other women that he was not having sex with at the same time. At first he was downcast at the impossibility of bedding the whole world, but despair quickly turned to bitter, jealous, fanatical anger: the Queen of Norway had betrayed him! Edith Wharton was cheating on him! Isabella Rossellini was denying him his conjugal rights! Duplicitous cunts, all of them! Counterrevolutionary sows! Petit-bourgeouis sluts! At the same time, his imperial sexual ambition overflowed all the boundaries of his culture and upbringing. For the first time, he felt sexual desire for men — and not only for men, but also for giraffes, dolphins, musk melons and male and female gingko trees; and not only for living creatures, but for all conceivable conquests, real and imaginary, living and dead. One night, trembling and unable to sleep, he tried to soothe himself with a cup of weak tea and a favorite old children’s book, only to find himself shortly paralyzed with rage, brandishing a fish knife and screaming at Cinderella and Prince Charming for two-timing him with each other.
   Clearly the time had come to do something. In a rare moment of clarity, while exhausted and lying on the cold bathroom floor, Weinberg finally realized that it was the mustache. The whole thing — starting from the very beginning with the Vassar girl in her dead grandmother’s rent-controlled apartment and all the way up to and including the handicapped bi-curious Con Ed man’s helper monkey who had just left — it was all the mustache. In a cold sweat Weinberg dragged himself to his feet and opened the medicine cabinet. He undid the drawstring of his Ecuadorian basket pants and took down a straight razor. His penis, once exposed to the air, leapt immediately to

He relinquished all personal agency and let his schmeckel do what it liked.

erection; he steadied it with his left hand. Slowly he lowered the razor. He thought he saw a dark shadow pass across his penile crown. No, he told himself, he was hallucinating; get it over with! A drop of sweat fell from his nose and deafeningly hit the floor. . . . In the end, Weinberg’s hand trembled so badly that instead of slicing off the mustache, he slashed his left wrist and fainted, hitting his head on the bathtub. He woke up briefly in the ambulance, his penis and its mustache in the mouth of a buxom nurse-practitioner, and then passed out again.
   At this point Weinberg gave up. He relinquished all personal agency and let his schmeckel do what it liked. To begin with, it bedded everyone in the psychiatric ward and single-handedly started a small tuberculosis epidemic. Next was Sutton Place: in one wild and crazy week, Aloisius Weinberg’s penis leapt and slashed its way across one hundred and fifty two permanent missions to the United Nations while Aloisius Weinberg’s mind miserably fantasized about holding hands and watching Jeopardy! with some nice uptight Jewish girl from Tenafly, New Jersey. The following week was Fashion Week: somehow gaining entry to all the best shows and parties, even though Weinberg himself was by now dirty, malnourished, and dressed in rags, Aloisius Weinberg’s penis gave herpes, genital warts, chlamydia, and fleas to seventy-eight assorted supermodels and socialites, including three of Mick Jagger’s girlfriends and two of his daughters. He also fucked nine cheese blintzes and a panda bear. On Sunday night his penis allowed Weinberg an hour’s rest, and Weinberg spent it in a corner of the Plaza Hotel drinking verbena tea and sobbing quietly. His penis was biding its time. Sure enough, the following week, after a visit to the offices of the New York Observer that Weinberg found particularly shameful, his penis was the toast of the town: it was scheduled for three magazine covers and a buddy movie with Warren Beatty, and had hired six secretaries to handle all the phone calls from Hollywood, Milan, and the White House. Weinberg was wretched. Broken of rebellion and without appetite, he smoked more than ever and tried to stay out of the way.
   It has recently been claimed that as many as a third of the men of central Asia can trace their paternal ancestry directly to Genghis Khan. That may be so, but Khan had nothing on Weinberg. Over the course of the next two years he, or rather his “San Francisco frankfurter,” traveled to every corner of the globe and impregnated not less than six hundred thousand of the likeliest and most fertile girls that could be boasted by the human race. At the same time pictures of his penis, which a Russian expatriate society reporter had ironically nicknamed “Stalin,” were plastered over every available surface, and discussion of this new Stalin dominated the public media and even worked its way into the bedrock of the most basic human discourse, so that every Friday night in bars across the world men could be heard to say to women, “It may not be Stalin, but it does all right.” It all seemed like it would go on forever — Weinberg’s cock striding across nations, Weinberg slouching and smoking Merit Ultra-Lights — until one day, all of a sudden, while reviewing a parade of Bulgarian hookers, Stalin caught his mustache in a zipper and ripped it clean off.
   For a moment, no one moved. Then the hookers began to dance and sing folk songs. Soon the news had traveled the world, and parties broke out, and statues were toppled and lapel buttons cast away, and Weinberg, ignored and unwanted, meekly crawled home to take a bath. He congratulated himself on having had the foresight to stock up on Mr. Bubble. As he sat in the bath drinking chocolate milk and listening to A Prairie Home Companion, Weinberg jiggled and jiggled and jiggled his piece — not from neurosis or for masturbatory pleasure, but simply because he was so tickled at its newfound flaccidity. “Hot dog!” Weinberg said. “I’ll never jerk off again!” The next morning Weinberg woke up early, discerning bird song behind the car alarms and smelling fresh cantaloupe underneath the car exhaust, and he slipped on a pair of fuchsia yoga pants and went out to buy himself a celebratory bialy, or maybe an onion roll. Standing in line at Kossar’s, Weinberg noticed in front of him none other than the very same dark-haired Vassar girl he had met there two years before, the first of Stalin’s conquests. He could not help but notice that this girl still had an awfully nice tush. She stepped forward to the counter and he watched it ripple. “But no,” Weinberg said to himself, “enough is enough,” and he took his onion roll home and jerked off.  

Will Heinrich was born in New York. His novel The King’s Evil was published by Scribner in 2003. He won a PEN/Robert Bingham fellowship in 2004.

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