(Any man reading this, who finds me, even the least bit attractive, should stop reading now. Your bubble will be burst. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
Two days ago, after my shower, I dared to do something I’m a little afraid to do anymore. I slowly approached the magnifying mirror thinking I might check the state of my eyebrows. It’s one of those tap-three-times-for-the-brightest-light-magnifying-mirrors, and I was on tap three when I saw what looked like the leg of a tarantula sticking out of my chin.
“Holy shit, I screamed and jumped back only to realize it was the biggest mother of a chin hair I’ve ever seen on my face. “What the hell! I screamed, grateful my daughter was already at school. She would have been disgusted, but sadly, she’s been there before.
Eight years ago when we were on a road trip, I was fixing my hair in the mirror and saw something shiny glinting in the light at a rest stop. I was horrified to find a luminous white hair sticking out of my chin like one of those fluorescent light up wands they sell at Disneyland. I screamed for the kids to grab my make-up bag. Concerned, they yelled, “Mom, what’s wrong!” When I told them it was a silver chin hair glinting in the sun, they laughed at my vanity, but I still haven’t gotten over it. Mirrors are now the enemy.
Any time I see a hair, I remember old Italian lady friends of my parents and the feel of their whiskers digging into my cheek during a kiss. I loved them but don’t want to be them. My mom felt the same way and the chin hair reminds me of another unforgettable “Mrs. Tunno” moment:
I was visiting my parents and it was early morning on a bright spring day. My mother shuffled into my bedroom in her thin, light blue nightgown and sat down heavily on a corner of my squeaky bed. I leaped up and said, “Ma, what’s wrong?” “Frenzy,” she said, with a very serious look on her face, “Honey, I’mma sorry did I woke a you uppa? I could tell she was worried, so I said, “Yeah, but it’s OK, what’s wrong?”
“Honey, I was wazza tingin, she said — you know, I’mma notta too good anymore. I getta so tired and I donda know ha much longer I’mma gonna be here. So, you gatta promise me sommating, OK?” I could tell she was getting really serious, so I said, “OK Ma, what?”
With a normal parent, this is when you discuss never divulged family secrets, or future plans or money hidden in Swiss bank accounts. Since our family had no secrets, no plans and definitely no Swiss bank accounts, I knew what was coming. The same speech she’d been giving since I was six.
Her voice started to tremble as she said “Honey, you gadda promise sommating. You gatta promise a me datta wenna I die, you make a me lookka beooodeful inna da casket. You come a real a cloze and eeffa I gotta mustache, and summa hairs a stickin out, YOU GADDA PLUCK EM OUD! OK? I wanna look a beooodeful inna da casket.”
It was an image I wasn’t exactly comfy thinking about and she was practically in tears and all worked up, so I figured laughter would be the best medicine. “Ma,” I said, “You planning on kicking the bucket today?” She thought for a second, smiled and said, “Wella no.”
I said, “Then don’t worry about it. When the time comes I’ll take care of it.” Little did I know what I was promising, but that’s a story for another day.
I love that it wasn’t death that scared her. What terrified her was the thought that someone might see something that looked like a tarantula leg sticking out of her chin and she’d be helpless to do anything about it.
Now that’s a woman with priorities.