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Great Memories


April 10, 2014

(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.

Mom as Ms. Beaver County

My mom; young, beautiful, hairless and Miss Beaver County, the way she wanted to be remembered. (And she had no make-up on!)

“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.

  • Reply
    Working Hard at Life | At Fran's Table
    July 23, 2016 at 12:33 am

    […] post, I’m re-posting an old favorite one about chin hairs and my mother. It’s called, “Pluck Em Oud!”  Just click on that pink-ish purple hyperlink and the magic of the internet will connect […]

  • Reply
    Bernard Tunno
    April 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I still laugh at times I saw her taking her mustache off. She looked like a female Palladin!  Bernie Tunno    President Tunno Insurance  330 758-6697


    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      April 12, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      I know, she had that small blackened, beat up pot with the handle and the small cheese knife she used to spread the wax on her upper lip and chin and forehead. That look was always good for a laugh and she used to laugh with us, God bless her and her chin hairs.

  • Reply
    Colleen Rudnicki
    April 11, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Great, Fran! The dread of all middle-aged (sorry for that horrible expression) women! We truly know the meaning of a wild hair!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      April 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Actually, middle age is starting to sound kinda hot to me. That’s terrifying.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Splendid. Wonderful. Brilliant. Thanks so much for brightening up my oh-so-dreary day. Friday will be a lot better now.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      April 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Aww Don, you say that like you might even understand about chin hairs. Being a man, I guess you would, but at least you are empathetic!

  • Reply
    April 11, 2014 at 5:19 am

    I simply can’t imagine the Fran Tunno I know with a gargantuan tarantula chin hair; I chose to remain in denial! Great story, Fran.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      April 11, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Awww Jerry. See? I warned you! But thanks for choosing not to believe. I choose that too.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Oh, Lord, YES!!!!!! Forget the sex talk: we really should do a better job at preparing our daughters for the vagaries of old age–sags, hair loss (and found where it shouldn’t exist), etc. Love this story, Fran!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      April 11, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Love you Linda. No kidding. I think my daughter is somewhat prepared, but that first glistening hair will still throw her. I still quake at the memory!

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