I have no idea why we have little furry strips above our eyes. I know for a fact eyebrows are not essential to survival. Many an old lady has bumped my ankles with her shopping cart and revealed to me, upon turning around, theatrically painted brows in scornful angles. These ladies are still alive. They're shopping.
Sometimes, when I'm talking to someone, the conversation starts to mute out and my eyes, like a well-trained movie camera, zoom right in on the other person's eyebrows. And I become deeply disturbed. Oh my God. What the hell? There are like two thin patches of hair hanging out right there above his eyes. Holy fuck! They just moved. Oh, man....this is nuts.
Before you raise your worried fingers to your own brow, stroke it with a level of self consciousness you never knew you had, and vow to never speak to me again in a lighted area, let me say this: Usually I don't think about it. Usually I accept eyebrows as being just as normal on a face as that weird fleshy tube with two holes in it that we call a "nose," or the two cupped discs protruding from either side of our face with their many folds and eerie ability to glow from behind when in bright sun. Eyebrows are just there.
But, from time to time, I wake up and when brushing my teeth in that sleepy morning way, staring into and past the mirror while my eyes focus and unfocus, my sight rests on my eyebrows- and I couldn't be any more shocked than if someone had sneaked into my room at night and used a hot glue gun to adhere two pipe cleaners above my eyes.
It's then than I know it's going to be an eyebrow kind of day.
It's a perfect scene from a horror flick, really. Imagine this: a couple is dining outside at a quaint cafe. Breakfast, maybe. First date. The lady has been busy using her pointer finger to dab and collect little pieces of flaky croissant bits that fell off her plate onto the white tablecloth. The man is staring past the lady to the waitress with the bouncy walk and low-cut top. Things are not going well. This will be their last date.
Finally, the lady looks up from her crumbs to ask him a question. "So...where did you go to high sch-" In the exact moment her eyes lift, they make contact with two furry limp caterpillars resting directly above her date's eyelids. She had not noticed them before. How had she not noticed before?
"Excuse me? What was that?"
"I said," (she gulps and tries to proceed) "where did you go to....high...I'm sorry. You have a little something...."
The man looks confused, which makes his furry eye strips scrunch down, appearing twice their former size.
"Oh!" she yelps. "I said, there's something on your....." The lady takes her pointer finger, one lonely piece of flaky croissant still dangling from it, and proceeds to slowly direct it toward her own face in an attempt to indicate to her date where the offensive intruders were located. "...Right here, above your-"
Here, the camera would pull in for a tight shot of her finger making contact with her own foreign brow. A brow that she had somehow gone 30 years without noticing. The pastry flake loses its ability to hang on to her fingertip and takes refuge on one protruding hair. A rebel hair. One that refuses to lay down and do as you're told.
Back to the tight shot. Her fingers begin to shake and tactilly take in the startling reality they've stumbled upon. It doesn't take long for us to hear the piercing scream. This is a Janet Leigh scream. The camera then pulls back, but this time from above. With the scream on a continual loop, we float above her. Further and further away until she and her date and the waitress and the tables with little white table cloths are just specks. Then the rooftops are specks. We're retracting at an alarmingly fast pace now, and her scream- the farther away we get from it- lessens in volume, sure. But it's when we're in outer space and can still hear it, that we know the extent of her horror.
Last night it occurred to me that I'm not sure what my eyebrows are up to at night. As I fell asleep, I imagined them waiting for me to be deep in a dream before sliding off my face, inch worming themselves across my pillow and sheet, and plopping onto the floor. They know to avoid the dog's room. Other than that, they have free reign until 7:30 a.m., when my alarm goes off and they're back on my face. Exhausted from their nighttime escapades.
Perhaps one evening they'll be so caught up in their adventures that they won't quite make it back on time. I'll stumble out of bed, let the dog out, watch her sniff frantically around the perimeter of each room, and suddenly stop in the corner of my kitchen. Grunting and snorting, I'll know she's found something she's not supposed to have. A dust bunny, perhaps, but she'll have eaten it before I can properly scorn her.
I'll let her out and shuffle my way to the bathroom, where, without looking, I'll open the mirrored medicine cabinet and reach for my toothbrush and toothpaste. Unscrew the cap. Squeeze the tube on the bristles. Put the cap back on. Back on the shelf. Close the cabinet door and here I'm met with my reflection. Eyes in and out of focus, teeth being vigorously brushed. Above them is my nose. My two sleepy eyes. My eyelids. And above those is a smooth surface where my eyebrows used to be.
I wonder if I'd even miss them.