Do you wish to know what accomplishment feels like? I’ll tell you. Have you ever wanted to be the absolute best at something? To be immortal? I too have wanted that. We have all wanted that.

But as I think of my accomplishments, I must admit that I’d trade all of my World Beard and Mustache Championships for one more moment with her.

I remember when I first met Adelaide. I was coming off back-to-back Freestyle Mustache wins—The Repeat. No one thought it could be done, but I did it. I was a real cowboy, considered flamboyant even for the Freestyle category. She was a young journalist sent from the largest facial hair-focused magazine in the world to cover the event. Obviously she was star-struck.

I bought us drinks (mine with a straw, of course) knowing what she expected me to be— cocksure and self-absorbed—like every other mustache man.

I was all that and more. I asked her if she wanted to join me for dinner. That night I told her of my plan to enter the Full Beard Freestyle Category the following year.

Of course, she was shocked. Freestyle Mustache to Freestyle Beard in one year?!

The move was unprecedented. No one had ever done it. That’s what “unprecedented” means.

She had all the typical questions. “How will you grow your facial hair so quickly?” “How are you able to live off your meager Mustache Championship winnings?” “Couldn’t you enter a more conservative competition category?” “Why don’t you at least consider part-time work to supplement your mustache income?”

I told her I would consider neither lowering my expectations nor supplementing my income. She was clearly excited. It was then I first allowed her to kiss me—on the upper cheek and upper cheek only. I couldn’t take any chances.

A few weeks later, she moved in with me to aid me in my quest for World Beard and Mustache dominance. She covered my transformation from mustache to beard in the trades, helping me every step of the way, blurring the lines between journalistic integrity and sexual ferocity.

God she was beautiful.

How did I let her slip away?

As I sit in this ironically vinyl-paneled room in a Portland suburb, surrounded by an unprecedented amount of trophies for my facial hair, I feel nothing but regret. Why did I give everything in pursuit of glory? Why didn’t I spend more time with her? Why didn’t we set a weekly date night—not really, like, a binding thing—but more like a reminder to spend quality time with each other?

I cannot answer these questions. But I can say. I’d give back my medals for The Musketeer, The Alaskan Whaler, The Sideburns Freestyle, The Partial Beard Freestyle, The Hungarian, The Dali—that one I’d keep actually, because Adelaide and I were both very fond of Salvador Dali’s brand of surrealism, so naturally that one is a bit sentimental. But The Natural Full Beard, The English, The Garibaldi, The Imperial Mustache, even The Chinese, I’d trade them all. I’d trade them all and more for one more embrace. One more chance to let her kiss my upper cheek and upper cheek only.

My dear Adelaide, why are men cursed to fight for glory while happiness sits patiently nearby, writing freelance articles for a magazine about beards?

This is the question I ask myself, alone with my curiously accurate renderings of mustache styles cast in aluminum and painted gold to stand as emblems of my foolishness.

Nay, of man’s foolishness.