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I like to pluck in my car.

woman looking at rearview mirror

Amy Brenneman: Just this morning the urge overtook me. I sat paused at the stoplight in the warm sunshine, lazily running my hand over my chin. I feel something. My breathing quickens. Do I have time before the light turns green? The light is perfect. No one is looking. And I need it so bad! I can't stop myself. Without taking my eyes off the light, my hand wanders over to where it has wandered so many times before. It knows by instinct, the journey -- the contours of the glove compartment, the efficient click of the lock, the digging beneath unpaid parking tickets. My heart is thumping. Surely the light is going to change. Surely I don't have time to bring myself to satisfaction with the help of my trusted -- there it is, wedged between a pack of gum and an ancient map of Napa -- Tweezerman.

Oh, I'm sorry. Did you think I was talking about something else? That would be PLUCK, you dirty birds, PLUCK in my car. Do you? Do you ever pluck in your car? The light slants in perfectly -- the hairs that would disappear in my bathroom now show up black and bold in my rearview mirror. Tweezerman gets the job done. I pluck and pull, hoping the light stays red. I can't help it -- I have to look down at each hair pulled, amazed that passersby on the street hadn't been laughing and pointing at my crone whiskers. Yes, people, they were that bad.

Years ago, before marriage, children, and a steady gig vacuum-sucked any free time from my life, I was committed to electrolysis. I drove miles from my home to see the lady that didn't hurt me too badly, and we wrestled with the hairs on my moustache (oops, sorry, I don't think we say that anymore -- my "upper lip") for what seemed like months. It helped. We started on my chin when I got a movie in Vancouver, so I have been on my own with my whiskers ever since.

Amy Brenneman

I don't know why I think I'm invisible in my car. It's not like anyone couldn't just look over and observe -- to their horror, no doubt -- a reasonably attractive woman attacking her chin with unbridled pleasure. But some of you would understand. Especially we who descend from Eastern European and Latin countries. Sisters from Lithuania, unite! I had a grandmother from Lithuania, the dearest and the sweetest of women. My mother's mother, I didn't know her well, but her heart was wide and generous and she seemed to possess no vanity whatsoever. Imagine my surprise, then, when at age 90 -- before the stroke that would render her mute for the last four years of her life -- we sat together holding hands. I noticed a long, white hair at the corner of her mouth that drooped all the way to her lower lip. "Grandma, I have hair there too," I say. (We are so fearless at 20.)

She gathered a shaky breath to speak. It took all her effort at that point. "I've always hated," she panted, "those hairs."

Honestly, it was the last clear thing I remember her saying.

Grandma Kate, this pluck's for you.

next: Tom Brady on Gisele's Pregnancy: "I'm Glad It's Over"
43 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley December 18, 2009, 4:44 AM

I hate plucking. I used to be pretty steady at it but now, my eyebrows look so bad. I have thought about waxing because most places around here only charge about 5 bucks but I think it would hurt.

Bejewell December 18, 2009, 9:43 AM

Some things just can NOT go unchecked. I don’t call the car pluck “vanity”… I call that “necessary maintenance.”

Wendi December 18, 2009, 12:31 PM

I think if you find it in the car and take care of it then good for you. Who cares what the others driving down the road think. I have to spend forever in the morning plucking…I hate it! Makes no sense for me to wax because in less than a week they are all back. I think this is an unspoken truth that a lot of women face and it is so nice to hear somoeone be so open about it.

Willy December 18, 2009, 1:00 PM

If it actually happens at a red light, fine. But I’ve seen it so often when women are driving. And this, ladies, is why men think you should not be allowed to drive.

mollysmom December 18, 2009, 2:28 PM

i keep my tweezerman in my car for this exact purpose!! half the time in the house i dont’ notice my “old woman” whiskers but once i get in the natural light there they are!! i’m so glad i’m not alone :)

tennmom December 18, 2009, 4:59 PM

I keep a pair of Mr. Tweezerman in my purse. My daughters are attending different schools this year, which means more time in pick-up lines. It saves me the expense of a professional wax.

D.V December 19, 2009, 2:41 AM

You have an enormous amount of vocabulary, and you’re crazy… or like you describe yourself, “insane person”, but I like that! Keep putting your tougths in words!

mamamili December 19, 2009, 8:14 AM

oh, man — we must be from the same shtetl. I keep a tweezerman in every bag. my new daughter’s got the eastern euro *and* south american genes, so she’s in for a lifetime of eyebrow (and other hair) management. sigh.

Kathryn December 19, 2009, 8:20 AM

This was so funny, Amy!

I used to be the queen of the pluck, and then I found this amazing little thing called a Clio. Actually my husband found it and bought it for me. It’s a cheap little shaver you can buy at any drugstore, and that thing is amazing! I hated plucking, you always miss a hair or two until they’re so long you’re horrified you’ve been walking around that way.

Pluck on if you must, but if you get a Clio, you will never go back. And it’s small enough to fit in your purse.

Anonymous December 19, 2009, 1:36 PM

Gotta love you! Such an amazing and honest blog! Loved it!!!

Yasmine December 19, 2009, 3:35 PM

So sweet, the whole, “Grandma Kate, this pluck’s for you.” I don’t pluck or wax because once you start you can’t stop. It becomes constant then you end up facially hairy and that is scary.

Beatriz August 1, 2010, 8:28 PM

Well, I am from South America and I have a grandma from Eastern Europe too, so I know exactly what you mean! Wherever I go I take a twezeerman with me.. can’t help it.

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