Every once in a while, I’ll be talking with my wife and a curious look will cross her face.
She’ll stop whatever she’s doing, furrow her brow, and lean in as I speak. Early on, I thought she was captivated by the powerful ideas and crackling wit of my repartee. But, now that I’ve been married awhile, I know:
It’s eyebrow hair.
“You’ve got a really big hair hanging out there . . .” she’ll say.
“#$@*&,” I’ll say.
And she’ll grab the top of my skull with one hand, and I’ll mutter a surly tirade as she stalks the offending hair with the other. This is one of those low-glam wifely duties that guys never seem grateful for, but appreciate nonetheless. If someone you love doesn’t prune these things, you walk around like a human angler fish all day.
Rampant eyebrow growth is another one of God’s jokes. Conceived, undoubtedly, on a slow day in heaven when the deity decided that midlife males needed more biological booby traps. So now, in addition to Chia-pet ears and a nose full of underbrush, every month or so I look into the bathroom mirror and see a ferret slung across my head.
Then you’ve got to pull the damn things out.
“That didn’t hurt, did it?” she’ll say.
“Yes, it did. It was like yanking out coaxial cable.”
“Oh, look . . . there’s another one.”
Eyebrow hair is more insidious than ear or nose hair, which can be trimmed on sight. But people need eyebrows. Without them we look expressionless, like otters. Freakishly long “rogue” hairs can lurk undetected within an innocent eyebrow. Then, a cross wind or an important meeting comes up, and suddenly you have antlers.
I used to make fun of eyebrow guys. My jean-jacket friends and I would hoot from our Oldsmobiles at these geezers with their white socks and furry visors. Now jean jackets hang in retro shops. Oldsmobiles sit at classiccar auctions. And irony grows from my forehead so fast it frightens the dog.
But these things have their lessons: At least I have someone to tend my eyebrows. Runaway brows can be devastating, if left unchecked. “60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney must now begin every segment with: “Down here!” Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev survived many Kremlin power plays, only to die at 75 when his massive, unkempt eyebrows overwhelmed him. Guys over 40 should consider themselves fortunate if they have a partner who cares enough to pluck them back from the edge.
That’s what my eyebrows taught me, and my wife agreed. I think. When I told her, she looked fascinated.
Then she grabbed my cranium.
“Hold on,” she said. “This one dances while you talk.”