[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
lucy in my face with wax strips
as a general guideline, i don't like really thin eyebrows. it scares me. sort of like the fact that there's a second joe millionaire, or like seeing footage of john ashcroft and trent lott singing.
there was this woman, linda, who worked with my mom. when i was young and i'd sometimes stop in to visit my mom at work, i would find myself totally mesmerized by linda. despite the surroundings - she and my mom worked at our local k-mart - i always thought she looked like something out of the movies. in retrospect, it was probably more like something out of dynasty, but i was young and all i knew was i'd never seen anyone so joan-collins-glamorous in real-life.
she always wore boots with high heels. her hair was dyed black, and cut chicly short. she wore cowl necks sweaters and shoulder pads. she wore shawls. she had rings on all of her fingers, and her nails were always shiny and red.
linda's makeup must have taken hours. there was contouring. there was highlighting. there was careful color-coordination. i imagined a detailed chart with clearly labeled areas. indices of specific color and product information. perhaps even cross-referencing. i imagined a lighted vanity covered with bottles and brushes and powders and puffs.
and then, there were linda's eyebrows.
or, i should say: there were not linda's eyebrows.
apparently, linda had removed her eyebrows completely and drew them back on every day. they were, literally, pencil-thin and arched so high as to give linda the look of being perpetually surprised by what you had to say. even if you were just saying, "hi, linda," she was surprised.
i sometimes imagined what linda might look like without her eyebrows painted on. wondered if she ever got in a hurry and found herself standing in the produce aisle at fas-chek suddenly realizing that she had forgotten to draw them on the way i would sometimes forget to put on my second earring. i even wondered what linda would do if there was an emergency and she had to get out of bed in the middle of the night…did she draw on eyebrows for nighttime, just in case? i tried to imagine linda sleeping while looking surprised.
sometimes, i would go home and look at my own eyebrows in the mirror, trying to decide what i would look like with linda's eyebrows, and what she would look like with mine. mine were nothing like linda's pencil-thin caramel arches. they were thick and dark, and, as they were always kind enough to keep their distance from one another, i'd never really done much in the way of plucking. sure, i'd latch onto the occasional stray every now and again, but, for the most part, i felt that my eyebrows suited my face just as they were. and, truth be told, leaving them to their own seemingly harmless devices seemed a much safer proposition than inadvertently ending up with no eyebrows at all due to overzealous plucking.
but, sometimes, a woman gets to a certain age…usually 30ish…and thinks that there are all kinds of things that she has never done that maybe she should do. like, oh, i don't know…wax her eyebrows.
what possesses us to think these things, i cannot say. maybe it's the deluge of magazine articles telling us that the "right eyebrow" can totally change your appearance. make you look younger. more polished. more pulled-together.
and it is this warped thinking that brought me to speak these words:
"hey, lucy…maybe we should wax my eyebrows?"
i remember the moment clearly. i was lying on the table during my last facial, lucy's expert hands having performed all manner of torment and torture on my skin. there was exfoliation. there was steaming. there was the part where she looked at my skin under a gigantic magnifying glass which makes me want to curl up into a ball and hide. and, of course, there was the dreaded extraction.
remember how you used to pick at your face - using nothing but your fingers - and your mom would screech at you saying, "don't pick at your face! you'll scar it! oh my god, leave that alone!" well, now, as an adult, you get to pay $95 for some girl to take a metal device and squeeze all over your face - even in places where your skin seems perfectly okayfine -- until your eyes water and your scalp sweats and they call it "extraction" and i'm just thinking "how can this be okay?!"
so, in an effort to make conversation and distract lucy from looking at my pores and noticing that i've stashed jimmy hoffa in there, i utter the words "wax" and "eyebrows" in the same sentence.
lucy assumes the position over my head. she looks at me from every possible angle. i close my eyes so i don't have to see if she's making any faces like, "wax?! we're gonna need a weedwhacker first."
and then i hear her. she's talking more to herself than to me.
"interesting?" i ask, opening one eye.
"hmm." she's running her thumbs over my eyebrows.
"lucy? what's interesting?"
"well, your eyebrow here," she said, stroking my right eyebrow, "it's perfect."
"it's perfect. the perfect eyebrow."
my heart soared. my eyebrow. perfect. all these years of careful and prudent non-work. years of restraint, years of resisting the urge to experimentally pluck. perfect. somewhere inside of me i felt an enormous sense of pride in my perfect little eyebrow.
"that's awesome," i said with a satisfied smile.
"mm-hmm. but this eyebrow…" she trailed off, running her fingers across my left eyebrow.
and, true to my female psyche, i said, "you say that like it's bad. when was the last time something being thinner was bad?"
"well, it's thinner than the right one, so they're not symmetrical. so we're going to have to thin the right one."
and she started smearing warm sticky wax under my perfect right eyebrow.
"what?! but you said the right one is perfect!"
she was using some sort of stick, drawing a line into the depths of my once-perfect eyebrow.
"it is. but the left one isn't. and you want them to be symmetrical."
she was pressing a strip of white cloth into the wax.
"no. no, i don't. i mean, isn't it better to have one perfect eyebrow than no perfect eyebrow?!"
"not if that makes them asymmetrical."
she was running her fingers across the cloth, pressing gently.
and then, with the swiftness of merciful death, she pulled.
"oh my god!"
i walked out into the afternoon sun in a daze, sure i could feel my pulse throbbing in the now exposed brow area over my right eye. as i turned toward the metro station, i caught sight of my new eyebrows in the plate glass window of the salon. i stopped, taking a closer look to see if all the pain had been worthwhile. if i suddenly looked younger. more polished. more pulled-together.
and while i was disappointed that i didn't look any of those things, i was very pleasantly surprised to find i didn't look surprised.
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