I’m obsessed with tweezers now. I credit my friend Chad for this development, which began, as do so many obsessions, with an emergency trip to New York City, followed by a waxing.
Chad, who lives in Boston, recently suffered an epic and tragic breakup, and no amount of ice cream or television could console him. Seeking to get away from Boston and the situation for a few days, he urged me to meet him in New York for a weekend, during which time we would hate all things relating to love, romance and affection. I happily agreed to his proposal, for I had recently endured some relationship trauma myself, in the form of a restraining order from Bea Arthur. Besides, I will do anything my friends ask of me, especially if what they ask of me is that I go to New York.
Now, despite what you have been led to believe by watching romantic comedies set there, New York is actually the perfect place to go if you hate love. The opposite of love is indifference, and New Yorkers are champions of apathy. Nowhere is this more evident than in restaurants, where servers will bring your food — grudgingly — and then disregard you completely until they feel it is time to bring your check. There is no interaction with servers between receiving the entrees and paying the tab, because the servers no longer acknowledge your existence. You are dead to them. Pressed, they will deny ever knowing you.
It was during our weekend of despising all things related to romance that Chad said my eyebrows needed to be waxed. This alarmed me. I had always studiously avoided developing a uni-brow by occasionally swiping between brows while shaving, and apart from that, they looked fine to me. I never really pay attention to anyone’s eyebrows, unless they are egregious in some way. I always notice Tommy Lee Jones’, for example, because it is a single eyebrow that circumnavigates his skull. And once in St. George my friend Smacky and I saw a woman whose eyebrows had been removed altogether and painted on manually, except she painted them so they were arched, and so no matter what you said to her, she always looked surprised. We imagined her becoming a model for horror-movie posters.
But apart from aberrations like these, I was rarely observant of anyone’s eyebrows, mine included. And now here was Chad telling me he had not only noticed them, but that they needed to be waxed. What confused me most was that when he brought it up, we had not even been discussing eyebrows, nor hair of any kind, nor indeed anything related to grooming. If I recall correctly, our conversation had been on the nature of restaurant service in New York City, the quality of which I believe you already know. Was he suggesting my eyebrows — which I now took to be squirrel-sized and horrific — were the cause of our server’s ignoring us? Or was he just randomly changing topics, as he is wont to do?
It turns out to have been the latter; talking to Chad is like riding the Tilt-a-Whirl. My bewildered, mildly hurt expression at his sudden pronouncement was met with the explanation that while they looked “OK,” they needed to be “cleaned up a little.” At no point did I question how he became an expert in such matters or why he thought HIS eyebrows were all that hot, nor did I express my discomfort in his noticing that I even HAD eyebrows, let alone commenting on them, nor did I ever agree to let him perform work on my face. Yet somehow, later that day, I was sitting very still while he applied drugstore-purchased chemicals to portions of my brow, followed by a piece of latex or something, followed by a quick ripping, followed by a steady flow of bitter tears.
In general principle, I oppose the waxing of any part of the male human body. For some of us, the abundance of hair is the last vestige of masculinity in our emasculating society. But I had to admit: My eyebrows looked better. They were more trim and svelte, more heavy with skepticism when I lifted one of them, more indicative of deep thought when I furrowed both of them. I had finely tuned my eyebrows — a major instrument in the symphony of the face — and could now propel them to greater heights of expression.
The trouble is, you can’t just wax your eyebrows once and forget about it, and not just because the pain lingers for days. Hair grows back. This necessitated my purchasing tweezers and adding two minutes into my daily morning schedule to allow for eyebrow maintenance. Bear in mind I have a French fry-based diet and have not been to the gym since before Christmas and own only two pairs of shoes. Yet here I am, obsessed with a tiny, tiny part of my physical appearance.
I am also, as I mentioned so long ago that it may have been in a different column, obsessed with tweezers in general. Newly fascinated by the efficiency and cleanness of the tweezing process, I soon sought out other areas that might need to be tweezed. My nose hairs were not a concern; I already had a little electric trimmer for that. This left the hairs on my feet, which I twoze only a few of before mentally noting that no greater pain could possibly exist in all the world.
Duly chastened by my foray into non-approved tweezing, I now admire tweezers with caution and respect, using them for their appropriate purposes and nothing more. I’m a changed man. Bea, if you’re reading this, please take me back.
Yes, this really is an entire column about nothing more than eyebrows and tweezers. I thought about expanding its scope to include the general trend of men taking greater cosmetic interest in themselves, but then I thought, no, I'll just talk about my eyebrows and tweezers.
By the way, despite at one point being one of my best friends, Chad never read my column and in fact may not even be aware of its existence. So I could really say anything I want about him and he'd never know. It's like making fun of the Amish.