My Mother Used to Have Eyebrows A Short Story


I was inspired by this waaayyy freaky gallery to delve deeper into the psyches of the eyebrowless.  Growing up in Jersey, many of the housewives plucked and waxed away their natural brows and painted or drew them back on.  Why?  I'd see them at the mall, picking up their emo and goth offspring (not that theire's anything wrong with emo or goth or drawn on eyebrows for that matter) and I'd wonder what went on in their homes.  How could people's livesw be so different, their perspectives so varied, when they sleep under the same roof.  So without further ado, here's my take.

My Mother Used to Have Eyebrows

My mother used to have eyebrows. They were fantastic, dark, and wild. Like valences hung over her dark eyes, they seemed to take up more than their share of her face. I've seen them in old photographs from when she was young, when she was beautiful, and if I try real hard, I can almost remember seeing them in person. Nowadays, the only eyebrows my mother has are sold at Macy's cosmetics counter. She gets this brown pencil and draws a perfect convex shape. Then she smiles as if everything is right with the world and goes on about her day.

Five years ago, my mother bought a new house, or rather her new husband bought a new house. It's alright and I have my own room, but I sort of miss the days in the trailer. I miss the hum of the furnace next to the room where my sister and I slept. I miss peeling the Holly Hobby wallpaper in the bathroom. I used to just sit in there sometimes and peel the obnoxious bonnets off the Hobby girls, peel the muffins from their picnic baskets. There's something very reassuring about being able to destroy something and having it look no worse than before. I miss waiting for my mother to get home from the gas station where she worked, hoping she had snagged a Pokey-punch or a bag of Snoopy fruit snacks for me. Once she brought home five scratch-off lottery tickets and let me and Avery scrape the silvery coverings off with a penny. I matched three cherries in a row and scratched the prize box then handed the ticket to Mother who proclaimed that we had won two dollars! Mother pretended I was her hero and Avery tried to make me understand that a two dollar win didn't even make up the five dollars mother spent on the tickets in the first place. These memories, they aren't much, but they're what makes me feel the warmest in this cold, over sized house. Don't ask me why. I don't know.

Before long, my mother's hair went the way of her eyebrows. The thick, frizzy mass of waves that I used to bury my nose in each morning when I stumbled, blurry eyed and freezing into her room are gone. In its place grows lifeless strands, forced to submit to their plain shape with a four hundred degree iron and a two hundred dollar straightening treatment every three months at Mr. Theo Plute's salon. Mr. Theo Puke is allegedly the best hairdresser in town, but he's never done anything to my mother's, sister's, or my own head that I liked. He gave me a heart shaped bang once, feeling that it would be festive as Valentines Day was approaching. He neglected the fact that my hair flips and frizzes and never lies flat and for months I looked like a cross between a Winged Avenger and a Bichon Frise. Mr. Theo Puke did even worse things to my sister when she came to get her hair done for her Homecoming dance. First, he teased her hair up so it looked like Avery had a brick on top of her head that just happened to be covered in hair. He then proceeded to twist the rest of my sister's wild auburn hair into something that resembled a cocoon. I almost ventured a guess aloud about what kind of bug I expected to crawl out of that thing, but was cut off by my mother who started crying and gushing about how sophisticated and lovely her Avery looked. But the most grievous atrocity of Mr. Theo Puke was performed on my mother. He took her thick hair that broke brushes and thinned it down, cutting away chunks that didn't lie flat. Her tumultuous waves of hair lay on the ground, the victims of a crusade against natural beauty. He took away that undefinable shade of her hair and replaced it with a benign beige blond. I sat and watched in horror as swirls the color of good soil or fine mahogany wood were swept into a trash pail on top of someone's hamburger wrapper and coffee grinds. To top it all off, Puke gave my mother these strange sandy-taupe streaks, making her look like someone has wiped their nose all over her head.

Mother also felt the need to purge my wardrobe of all things deemed offensive. I had a shirt with a real cute little puppy on it that said "90% Adorable, 10% Trouble" that might as well have been made entirely of nose hairs, judging by my mother's reaction. I came down to breakfast one morning with it on and mother let loose on me about how we need to look important to be important and how she thought I had self respect. She made me take the shirt off right there in front of Avery and she threw it into the trash can, holding it as if she were afraid it contained white-trash magic and she didn't want to be cursed. As I turned to go upstairs, I saw my mother frantically checking to see if any neighbors were walking by and quickly drawing the shades. I heard her mutter to Avery something about being glad that one of her daughters knows how to dress herself properly. When I came home from school that day, my drawers had been ransacked and refilled with T-shirts bearing other people's names. If you know a boy named Calvin Klein, please tell him I somehow have ten of his shirts and to come over and get them.

My mother spends her nights at home now, not that it matters much. She shuts herself in her room with her huge lighted mirror and plucks at any trace of her eyebrows that dares to remain. She has a huge pair of sharp silver tweezers that make little clicking sounds each time she gets a hair. I don't know how she stands it. Avery once held me down and tried to pluck my eyebrows but it hurt so bad that I yelled and wriggled and bit until she let me go. Mother once told me that pain is only tolerable if it gets you what you want. I wonder what my mother wants and how many more things she will pluck out with those sharp silver tweezers in order to get it.

Uploaded 06/30/2009
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