Sunday, November 12, 2017

My Eyebrows Are Probably Out of Style by Now

Guys, I have a confession to make – I have a unibrow. Unchecked, it crawls across my face like a long, fat wooly bear presaging an especially harsh winter.

I don’t know if I always had a unibrow; I didn’t notice it until I got old enough for thick, dark hair to start growing in all kinds of strange and exciting new places, including on top of my toes and out of my belly button. At the age of twelve or thirteen, I started plucking the band of thick hair that grew across the bridge of my nose.

“If you pluck that too much, it’ll never grow back,” my mother would say in a warning tone that nevertheless gave me hope for the future.

But, as I’ve already established, my mother wasn’t interested in teaching me how to, as they say, “be a woman,” so, aside from the removal of enough hair to grant them plural status, my eyebrows remained unshaped. This changed one day when I was sixteen. I went to the hair salon a few blocks from my house to get my hair trimmed; I wore it in a short, masculine cut that my mother approved of, but that wasn’t well-suited to my curls.

“I’m going to wax your eyebrows,” the hairdresser announced as he snipped away. I met his gaze in the mirror. He looked concerned.

“Uh, I only have enough for the haircut,” I said.

“I’ll do it for free,” the man replied, too quickly.

So this hairdresser, whose name I didn’t know, applied hot wax to my face using an implement that looked a lot like a tube of lip balm. I won’t say that getting my eyebrows waxed was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced; in fact, on the scale of painful things that have happened to me, getting my eyebrows waxed is near the bottom, above mild-to-moderate sunburn but below getting stung by the same wasp twice. 

Once the man had applied and then ripped away both little strips of fabric, the hairdresser returned my glasses and invited me to regard my new visage in his hand mirror. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see what my new eyebrows looked like; my eyes were watering too heavily. But I must have feigned delight convincingly, because the man said, “You can groom them at home with a pair of tweezers. Just always remember to pluck from the bottom of your eyebrows, never from the middle or the top.”

I walked the few blocks home, eyes still watering. When I let myself into the house, my mother looked up from her book and gasped. “What happened to your eyes!?” she said.

“I got my eyebrows waxed,” I replied.

My mother cocked her head to one side. “I think you’re having an allergic reaction,” she said.

I went into the bathroom and squinted into the mirror at my now quite-inflamed eyes. “I’m never getting my eyebrows waxed again,” I said to my mother, who was hovering in the bathroom door.

And I never did. But once the swelling went down, I found that it was easy enough to maintain the shape myself with a pair of tweezers, just like the hairdresser had said. For years, I followed the hairdresser’s advice, always plucking from the bottom of my eyebrows, and never the middle or the top. But in recent years, I’ve had to start plucking the occasional gray eyebrow hair. 

Besides, it turns out that puberty is just the start of novel hair growth adventures in this life. I’ve also started to grow really long eyebrow hairs – which I feel the need to pluck before they can grow more than an inch long. I used to know a guy with really long, bushy eyebrows, like Poirot’s mustache but if he wore it on his forehead. That’s not the look I’m going for.