(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 a fluorescent light up wand 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 the enemy.
Any time I see a hair, I remember the whiskers of my parents’ old Italian female friends 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 episode brought back another unforgettable “Ma Tunno” moment:
I was back home for a visit. It was early morning on a bright spring day when my mother shuffled into my bedroom in her thin, light blue nightgown and sat down heavily on the corner of my squeaky bed. I leaped up from a sound sleep with a startled, “Ma, what’s wrong?” “Frenzy,” she said, with a very serious look on her face, “I’mma sorry did I woke a you uppa?” My lack of sleep was nothing compared to the worry I saw on her face, so I sat up and listened.
“Honey, I was wazza tingin — 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 dead seriouss (literally) so I said, “OK Ma, what?”
With a normal parent, this is when you discuss never divulged family secrets, future plans, or money hidden in Swiss bank accounts. Since our family had none of those, 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.”
She was practically in tears and all worked up, so I figured laughter would be the best medicine. “Ma, you planning on kicking the bucket today? I said.” 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 resembling a tarantula leg sticking out of her chin and she’d be helpless to do anything about it.
She was a woman who knew her priorities.