Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Hair Apparent

My dad is 85 years old, and is getting to the point where his vision is failing, his hearing is failing, his memory is failing, and his ability to multitask is seriously compromised. Recently, he overstayed a visit at a friend’s house and was forced to drive home at night, in the rain. He came to a stop at a crosswalk that is protected by a stop sign, and then stepped on the gas. Unfortunately, a pedestrian trying to get home in the rain dashed into the crosswalk in front of his car, and my dad clipped her as he pulled away.


He stopped immediately, and someone called the police. The careless pedestrian wasn’t seriously hurt, but of course she’s suing his insurance company. It shook my dad up pretty badly, and he’s starting to think about not renewing his driver’s license, which would be a huge relief to his children.

But mostly, we’re worried about his grooming habits. My father has impossibly thick, wiry eyebrows, and dangerously fertile nose hair. It’s a wonder he can breathe.


He’s also blessed with a full head of hair, which he has cut regularly. But he refuses to trim his eyebrows or nose hair in the belief that doing so “stimulates growth.”

Most of his children have inherited these characteristics, and while we’re happy there’s no baldness in the family, the eyebrows and nostrils are a problem. My sisters pluck and wax their eyebrows. I trim them all the time, or they’d quickly become functional awnings. I didn’t ask my sisters about their nose hair issues, but I’ll reveal my personal grooming secret: I pluck them.

Some people react with horror or pained expressions when I tell them, but trust me, you only cry for the first 200 or so. These days I don’t even blink.

To prepare my father for my brother’s funeral, my sister Peggy dragged him outside for a touch-up. She needed heavy artillery to work on the eyebrows, so she used a pair of poultry shears:


After the eyebrows were trimmed down to pre-puberty dimensions, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her husband Lee’s nose hair trimmer, which whined and chattered like a weed trimmer.


When she was finished, she returned the nose hair trimmer to her husband. To his credit, he only voiced a token complaint about the use of his grooming tool. I suspect he threw it away when nobody was looking and bought a new one. I would. I mean, he's my dad, but still.

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