Thursday, June 21, 2007


I plucked their eyebrows. It was my thing, my only thing, the one thing they loved. Arches—haughty French circonflexes—rendered with the utmost care, smooth sweet half moons, serious slashes for the serious eighteen year-old. The line outside my freshman dorm room stretched clear down the grey, linoleum corridor of Richardson Hall out into the common room where Coca-Cola and Mentos and fried pork skins were sold. Well, in my mind anyway. Very Strange Roommate marveled and told me to start charging $5 a brow, we’d split the profits. Who was going to ask for just one brow to be tended to? I wondered.
They came to me before every big dance, banquet or dinner date. Girls that I had ignored or those that had ignored me (inevitably members of the lacrosse team hailing from South Carolina and Virginia) sat on the narrow little bed, lit by my 100 watt desk lamp, next to pictures of my Italian boyfriend, his hand-written letters and recipes, my official rejection letter from Ruth Reichl (kind and concise). They glimpsed what I’d never reveal. And what did I see? Pores, clogged pores, brilliance and light. I’d never have observed any of this at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Crosby Stills & Nash mixer. But if I caught them looking too closely at me? I’d pull a hair beneath the white, virgin skin of the arch, make them tear up a bit. Don’t worry. It was brief and they learned a lesson and they always came back.

Plucked from obscurity. That’s how I look at it. I was a one trick pony but that was enough—more than most people have. I leveraged and I maneuvered and I met all the Alpha girls that way. I never much cared for their cocktail parties and mindless banter but the invites felt good. Meaningless invitations had a way of staving off loneliness—still do.  
A college campus, my New York City… nothing more than big buildings filled with vulnerable people. You can expose them, they can expose you. Garner their respect for one thing, no matter how small, and move on.

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