alexandra alger


I Feel Bad About My Eyebrows

Have you read Nora Ephron’s funny lament on necks? Her dermatologist told her the neck started to go around age forty-three, and sure enough, as she approached forty-three her neck started to go. She wrote, “One of my biggest regrets—bigger even than not buying the apartment on East Seventy-fifth Street, bigger even than my worst romantic catastrophe—is that I didn’t spend my youth staring lovingly at my neck. It never crossed my mind to be grateful for it.”

That’s how I feel about my eyebrows. For years they existed in a zone of my face, the above-the-eyes-area, that I never paid a whit of attention to. The forehead section. Who thinks about her forehead when she’s young and unlined? They were nothing special; regular, light-brown eyebrows that made sense with my reddish hair. I didn’t even pluck them, that’s how little I cared about them. Around forty, I started plucking them. I have to admit, I saw how eyebrows could give a bit of definition to the face. My eyebrows and I discovered one another. I took care of them, and how do they thank me? They disappear on me, like guests who slip out of a party without saying goodbye to the host.

It’s my right brow in particular. There’s a piece of it that’s gone missing, right smack in the middle. If an eyebrow is something like a comma, I’m talking about the mid-point of my comma’s tail. I use a pencil to make the bridge, but I can’t believe I’m at this point: penciling in an eyebrow! I used to think I wasn’t going to have to do that until I was eighty.

Here’s something interesting: My twin sister Hilary doesn’t have this problem. Her eyebrows are fine, How is that even possible, since we’re genetically identical? Environment must be to blame—living in New York instead of Philly, where Hilary is. Her hair—on her head—is thicker, too. Twin researchers: Does where you live determine how much hair you lose as you age? Get on this!

All things considered, I’m lucky. I know that. I’m not facing baldness, like so many men I know. My teeth aren’t falling out (yet). I won’t even go into the countless other more serious conditions that an aging human faces. Then there’s the sagging flesh issue. Oh, let’s not go there.

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