Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Mask of False Bravado

I've been wanting to write about my mother's eyebrows for the longest time.  I felt certain that exploring this memory would be a very gratifying exercise.  But when I sat with my thoughts and jotted the details down, everything that I could remember, there wasn't as much as I'd hoped.  Several false starts, and that was about it.  I was disappointed.  I could have sworn there was more.

Sometimes, I try to rush the writing and push it along before it's ready.  I get impatient because I love the thrill of knowing I've chosen an interesting topic to share and try to explain.  Each new idea takes me to exciting places.  I dream on paper about the future.  I return to the past and still, I see new things.  And I just keep seeing those eyebrows.

Well actually, there were no eyebrows.  Big Mare had singed them off so many times lighting cigarettes at the stove, they just quit growing back. Instead, she applied them carefully using a refillable pencil that came in a slender gold case.

Mom wasn't much for cosmetics.  Some lipstick, maybe.  She wore mascara at my wedding, and it was really weird.  She preferred a naturally angry look that intimidated people immediately.  Her face depended on her eyebrows to help convey a variety of aggressive expressions.  They hung at hostile angles across her forehead, like deadly brown boomerangs.  My mother was the Royal Queen of Implied Communication, and her eyebrows seemed to say, "Watch out!  This one can fight."

Perhaps that's the big reveal and the reason why there wasn't much to go on, pulling this piece together.  Big Mare was a terrible fighter.  Sure, she had those acrimonious eyebrows, and they were supposed to keep everyone in line.  But behind them, she was just a big mess of emotions. And that might be what I loved the most.

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