The area in question is relatively small. Two by one centimeters to be exact. About the size of two shirt buttons set side-by-side.
It is comprised of matter that is common and plain, making it, by itself, common and plain. But its location, its placement, makes this otherwise ordinary area different, noticeable, fixating. But in a bad way. It stands out. Something about it doesn’t fit. Makes it look huge and weird. Yet it sits right where it is supposed to sit – where it always has – doing what it is supposed to do, no more out of position than a bar on Lackawanna Avenue. Something about this area is off-putting though; as much as a trailer park would be popping up in Aurora Heights. Something about it is ugly.
At least that’s what a fancy hairdresser told me (in so many words) recently while she gave me what amounted to a $27 High and Tight (had never been to her before; left arm went numb when I heard the price; recovered; asked if I could have my hair back). My unibrow was the area in question, the one she was dogging. More specifically my unibridge, that rugged wisp, two-buttons wide, connecting the hairy ridgelines above the eyes to form a continental divide – the unibrow proper – across the face. She said I should wax mine. That it would bring out my eyes. Just Nair it away, she says. This woman clearly underestimated the importance of the patch.
The unibrow, I explained to her, would be staying. Not only because it was good enough for many of my great-great aunts and those who figured out how to make fire (all tough, resourceful people), making it good enough for me, but also because it is a marker; the marker defining where modernity took over and the wild days of an earlier people left off. It is a trace of the past, when a menacing forehead was all anybody had. Cavemen used theirs to scare off attacking woolly mammoths and as a source of kindling when winters were severe. Later on, the first women on the volcanic islands off of Italy, my ancestors, used them to scare their husbands into taking care of the yard. When the men of those same islands furrowed theirs, it made them look extra sorry when they got in trouble and extra stupid when they tried to BS their way out of it. The unibrow’s uses were (are) universal, and often indicated (indicate) that someone meant (means) business.
Suddenly modernity demands that everyone be pretty. Nobody wants to look like they mean business anymore. All beating around the bush, I say. The unibrow, brought and held together by the unibridge, tells it like it is. And here’s the skinny: No amount of plucking, shaving or waxing can hide the truth. The truth being that the jury is still out on us humans. God, evolution, or whoever or whatever it is manning the joystick has not decided what we are to be. If we were really the beautiful, hairless, utopian-geniuses we think we are, wouldn’t the damn fern gully resting above our noses have disappeared by now, like the stubby tails that probably used to protrude out the back of our furry ice-age tiger pants? (We fortunately lost those suckers when we officially graduated from Nymph Pre-K into Homo erectus Montessori.)
We must be lacking a few credits to get out of Neanderthal Tech, it appears, because mean old Dean Uni is still sitting in his office on the middle of our foreheads waiting for orders – flunk or pass – occasionally winking (Isn’t it creepy when you stare at things on yourself in the mirror for too long and they acknowledge you?), always reminding us that we have not done enough to earn our Hot Stuff Human degree. The comments on our final term paper might read: “You’ve proven you can watch and listen to talking pictures in perfect clarity at the speed of light on windows that are paper thin, grow new faces for people in lab, and build cars that park themselves. But you still make and sell pills that make people hallucinate and kill themselves so they can stop smoking, and you think the government should pay for your cigarettes and soda, and occasionally you figure that babies will stop crying if they’re put in the microwave.” We are, as the unibrow reports, still teetering somewhere between lumpy savage and super living computer attachment.
Anyway, we can only move forward – or head backwards. In fact, it might not hurt to fail a grade before we rush into things. Maybe we do have a little more to learn from the past? Maybe what’s ugly about the unibrow is us? Maybe I should just go back to my shed in the woods and shut up. The good news is we won’t stay the same, myself included.
And yes, I did actually measure my uni-bridge.